Smoky Hill's Noble Haskell Is Relentless

A year ago Smoky Hill Noble Haskell toed the line at the 2020 Colorado State Cross Country Championships

It was his first time racing on Colorado's biggest stage. 

There was everything that all runners love about the sport - the camaraderie, the cheers from the crowds, and satisfaction that comes with testing your limits. 

Cross country truly is a unique sport. Particularly in Colorado, where there's a community-feel that spans the state.

The then-sophomore finished 78th that day in 18:00, about 1:02 off his personal best of 16:58.

While a return trip to this year's state meet was clearly on his mind then, an unfortunate car accident over the summer dashed those dreams.

On June 26 Haskell and four running friends were returning home from a trip to Branson, Mo. While driving across the midwest, they encountered a raging thunderstorm in Russell, Kans., where they were hit from behind on I-70. 

While everyone in the vehicle endured injuries of varying severity, Haskell endured the worst of it. His neck was broken at C5 vertebra, which also damaged his spinal cord. He was flown to Wichita, Kans., 160 miles from the Russell hospital.

In Wichita, Haskell endured two emergency surgeries. 

First, they had to removed the C5 vertebra, which was fractured in two pieces, and fuse the C4 and C6 vertebra from the front of his neck. The second surgery was on the back of his neck, where they had to fuse the back of the vertebra.

He spent a month in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) before being transferred to Craig Hospital in Denver in early August. 

Initially the 16 year-old had no movement in his body, but did have feeling. Over the ensuing months, however, Haskell made strides through hours of physical therapy each day, and he now has minimal movement.

The drive that led him to run is now the same drive that's launching his recovery.

Back in Colorado where he is closer to family and friends, Haskell's comeback stage has been set. He continues to make progress, and has his sights set on regaining his ability to walk.

While Haskell's road back to the cross country course will be, well, like a Colorado cross country course - one with uphills and downhills, water-crossings, and hopefully at the end of it all, a cheering crowd waiting inside the stadium, he's determined to run again.

He's adopted a mantra for his journey - Relentless.

How Can You Help

While Haskell will not be on the starting line of this year's State meet, he will be in spirit. 

He would like to collect as many different cross country team t-shirts (not a racing singlets) in order to create a big cross country quilt out of them.

There will be a drop-bin for team t-shirts at the coaches' check-in table inside Penrose Stadium at Saturday's Colorado State Cross Country Championships. 

More information: CaringBridg