E-W senior standout back on track
Last updated 5/2/2019 at Noon
It’s taken about a year, but Edmonds-Woodway senior Olivia Meader-Yetter is finally back in her element running on the track.
The road back has been lengthy and full of twists and turns for Meader-Yetter, one of the Warriors’ top distance runners. Injuries kept Meader-Yetter on the sidelines for the most part since last May when she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in the neck of her femur, also known as the thighbone. The injury is most common to runners or other athletes who engage in repetitive impact to the lower part of their bodies.
“That’s probably the riskiest injury a runner can have,” Meader-Yetter said.
Meader-Yetter was on crutches for six weeks and not allowed to put her left leg down. She then was progressively adding weight for another six weeks. So for three months, Meader-Yetter was on crutches.
Then just as cross country practices started in early August, Meader-Yetter suffered another major setback when she broke her left foot in multiple places. The Edmonds-Woodway senior ended up not running in the state cross country championships for the first time in her high school career.
Meader-Yetter finished fourth at the 3A meet her junior and freshman seasons and placed eighth during her sophomore campaign. As a sophomore, the Edmonds-Woodway standout took sixth in the 1,600-meter race and eighth in the 3,200 at the state track and field championships. She also finished ninth in the 3,200 during her freshman year.
Looking back, Meader-Yetter said that getting up for a morning International Baccalaureate class coupled with a ramping up of her mileage during track season likely led to her physical problems.
“I got less sleep, which means less recovery time,” she said. “There was a lot of fatigue with not enough rest.”
Meader-Yetter felt pain in early April but didn’t get the injury diagnosed until May. The delay is common.
“Usually it takes about 14 weeks for that kind of fracture to be diagnosed appropriately,” she said. “People think it’s a tight muscle or something like that.”
Meader-Yetter said it was extremely difficult not to be able to run. At the time, she was at one of the fittest points of her life.
“Once I got knocked off that pedestal that I thought I was on, it was hard to see my teammates doing well and I hate to say that because as a teammate you want to be supportive all the time,” she said. “But emotionally it was absolutely devastating.”
Meader-Yetter found herself feeling depressed and have to deal with anxiety.
“I had never been that way before in my life,” she said. “I can with confidence say I was depressed for multiple months.”
But Meader-Yetter still found ways to contribute to the team.
“She was always here supporting her teammates,” Edmonds-Woodway cross country coach Alan Bonney said. “She was always giving them a pat on the back or a kick in the butt, whatever they needed. She’s just been awesome.”
Meader-Yetter kept in shape by cross training and as she gradually was able to do more forms of cross training, she started get over the hump. Meader-Yetter noted that she had to put in more work when she was cross training to keep up her aerobic output than she would have if she were running.
She started out using a hand bike where she sat on a chair and moved her arms fast. Meader-Yetter then transitioned to swimming for an hour and a half, but only with her arms. She didn’t start progressing her running until January.
“I don’t think that I fully came out of the fog until about early February or so,” Meader-Yetter said.
Even though she ran her season’s best time in the 1,600 at last month’s Eason Invitational, Meader-Yetter said she still isn’t 100 percent healthy.
“Right now, I’m still relying on cross training for a lot of my fitness,” she said. “My mileage isn’t extremely high. I’m hoping to be 100 percent within the next few months. But I don’t think it will be by the end of track season.”
Meader-Yetter is focused more on building up her confidence and reclaiming her race mentality. She will be continung her running career at Gonzaga.
“Ultimately, the goal would be to run well at Wesco and to run well at districts and see if that gets me where I want to go,” she said. “If I can improve as much as possible before the end of the season that would be my goal.”
But more than anything, Meader-Yetter is glad to be able to finish out her senior year on her feet.
“It’s been a really, really long process,” she said. “I think I’m more grateful I can compete with my friends and my teammates because it’s definitely more of a gift that I realized it was at the time.”
This story has been updated to correct the years Meader-Yetter competed at the state track and field championships.