While Blue Springs High School runner Cori Davis was doing hurdle drills before a USA Track & Field regional meet, she felt pain in her hip and groin area.
It made competing in the 400-meter run and 400 hurdles painful.
“My mom did not want me to run, but I told her I can make it,” Davis said. “It’s been hurting me for a month or two now. I told my mom I wanted to make it out of regionals then we could focus on my injury during nationals.
“The first day I was running my 400, after I came off the second curve, my hip actually popped. I had to finish my race limping.”
That didn’t deter her from reaching her goal.
Davis, who will be a junior at Blue Springs, miraculously won the 400 hurdles and took second in the 400 run, which qualified her for both events for the USATF Junior Olympics.
This week, Davis qualified for the finals in the 400 hurdles and competes in the preliminaries for the 400-meter run today in the USATF Junior Olympics in Lawrence, Kansas. If she qualifies in the 400, she will compete in the finals of both events Sunday in the age 15-16 division.
Not only was it impressive that Davis is guaranteed at least one All-American honor despite the pain she’s dealing with due to injury, she was ranked No. 29 overall going into the 400 hurdles and still ended up finishing third with a time of 1 minute, 4.72 seconds.
“We are trying to get a doctor’s appointment because we weren’t expecting it to last this long,” Davis said. “It hurts while I run, but it depends how hard I push myself. When I was coming down the backstretch (at the Junior Olympics), it was hurting a little bit, so I calmed it down some.
“That was my only race of the day, so I was able to go home and take an ice bath afterward. I just had to push through it for one race.”
And she did that against the best track athletes in the country in her age group. Despite being on such a big stage, Davis wasn’t intimidated.
“I ran at KU for (Blue Springs),” Davis said. “Some of the same people will be there and the same amount of people are watching, so it can’t shake me up too much because I still had to stay focused. It was hard because I was racing against a bunch of great girls, but I just kind of had to get all of the fear out of the way.”
She’s put in the work to get there. She’s trained five days a week with her coach Caesar Morales, who is also an assistant coach at Winnetonka High School. He had high praise for the junior, as she’s made stark improvements in a year’s time.
“She’s come such a long way in a short period of time,” Morales said. “I’ve been coaching her for a year now and in that time she’s improved drastically. She learning new techniques and getting her form together (for the hurdles). Instead of just going out there and running her race, she’s actually understanding how to run her race.”
When she competes in the 400 today, she aims to finish in the top eight for All-American honors. From there, she is hopeful to finish in the top three in both events.
“I need to start out fast because that would help me a lot,” Davis said. “I want to get out for the first 200 because I always pick it up during the final 200, and I have no idea why. If I can get down the first half of my race, the second half will be a lot easier.
“Most girls start out fast and slow down at the end. I start out slow and get faster at the end. Sometimes that can hurt me because the other girls are too far ahead. The times are so close for the hurdles, so that is my best shot at winning. I think I will have a strong chance if I can get out at the beginning.”
Davis also plans on doing big things during the high school track and field season next spring. Last season, she placed third and earned all-state honors in the 300-meter hurdles and anchored the seventh-place 400 and eighth-place 800 relay teams.
“Most of the girls on our relay teams will be seniors, so if we can get first at state, that would mean a lot,” Davis said.
Morales said he knows Davis can make some major noise for her junior season.
“No doubt in my mind, before she graduates, she will be a state champion in the hurdles,” Morales said.