Coach Craig Lewis stood on the track at Truman High School Tuesday morning watching members of his Patriot track team go through one of their final practices before this weekend’s Missouri Class 4 State Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

Coach Craig Lewis stood on the track at Truman High School Tuesday morning watching members of his Patriot track team go through one of their final practices before this weekend’s Missouri Class 4 State Track and Field Championships at Lincoln University in Jefferson City.

“There go my bionic runners,” he quipped, as Roy Bay, Sara Ruckman and Cole Rockhold jogged past him. “What those kids have been through with medical issues – to see them not only compete, but compete at the highest level – is special.”

The “bionic” trio will be joined by senior Justin Brown and junior Alisha Meyer.

“We’re taking five kids to state and every one of them – if they just perform to their ability – could come home with a medal,” the proud coach added. “I want to see all of them standing on the podium, having a medal placed around their neck.”

Bay, who won the 100 meters at last Saturday’s sectional meet, did not run track and field last year as a sophomore because he suffered a compound fracture near his ankle.

He now owns a nasty scar and has a piece of metal in his left leg, but it hasn’t slowed down the junior standout.

Ruckman, a senior who won the 800, underwent an appendectomy followed by colon surgery last November.

Rockhold, a sophomore who won the 3,200, found out that the severe pain he was suffering in his neck was the result of a tumor. It was removed Oct. 5 and he later found out that it was benign.

Brown, who won the 1,600, and junior 300 hurdler Alisha Meyer, who was second at the sectional meet, might not have overcome medical issues, but they are just as excited as their teammates about going to state.

Each of them has a goal and a purpose to serve as motivation at the state meet, as none of these Patriot standouts have ever received all-state recognition.

“This is my first time going to state, and I can’t wait,” said Bay, a favorite to win the 100. “Last year, I did something really stupid. I was playing a game of pickup football and broke my leg. When it happened I was terrified. I didn’t know if I could run track – and I didn’t know how well I could run if I did come back.”

He has dominated the area track scene and now wants to see what he can do against the best of the best.

“I’m excited,” Bay said. “It’s my first time going to state and I’m going to win. We’re all going to win – that’s what makes it so cool.”

Ruckman, a three-sport standout who also plays basketball and runs cross country, had an appendectomy and later underwent surgery to remove a tumor that was growing onto her colon.

The tumor was benign, but doctors had to remove a portion of her right colon to make sure she was cancer-free.

“That happened in November and I didn’t get to play basketball until January,” Ruckman said. “I took a weightlifting class and extreme fitness class with Coach Lewis and that really helped me get back a lot quicker than I thought I would.”

Ruckman is on a winning streak that includes victories at the conference, district and sectional meets, and she hopes to keep it alive at state.

“I want to win,” she said matter of factly. “I’ve been twice and never medaled, and I at least want to get a medal my senior year. My coaches have been telling me that the best athletes turn in their best performance at state and that’s what I hope to do.”

Rockhold received some unexpected help in winning the 3,200 at sectionals when Brown sacrificed any chance of winning the event by setting the pace, taking the lead, and drafting for his sophomore teammate.

“I still can’t believe he did that for me,” Rockhold said. “At state, I’m going to be running for me and running for Justin – and all my teammates.”

Brown said he knew Rockhold had a chance at winning the 3,200, while the senior had his first-place medal in the 1,600 in hand.

“I’ve never done anything like that before,” Brown said. “And I know he appreciated it. After the race he told me I was his hero. Wow! I’m really glad he appreciated it so much.”

Rockhold also appreciates the chance to compete at state, after missing much of the cross country season following his surgery to remove the tumor at the base of his neck.

“I know my mom and dad were worried,” Rockhold said, “but I was more worried about missing cross country and track. The doctor called my dad and told him I didn’t have cancer when I was at the Blue Springs Invitational. Then we went to the doctor’s office and found out that I was going to be OK and I could start running again.”

Rockhold knows he will be getting more attention at state because of his first-place sectional finish, and he is ready for the challenge.

“I won’t have Justin, but I feel like I can do it – I can win at state. I’m excited because it’s such a big event.”

This will be Meyer’s third trip to state, and like all of her teammates, she is hoping to bring home her first medal.

“Roy, Sara and Cole have all been through so much,” she said. “It’s great to all be going to state, especially with Sara since she is another girl making the trip.

“It’s going to be a fun weekend. We’re going to be there to support each other and we’re all going to do our best to live up to our goals.”