ALGONQUIN – Evan Jager made remarkable strides in his burgeoning professional track career a year ago.
The 2007 Jacobs graduate, only one year after leaving the University of Wisconsin to turn pro with Nike, qualified for the World Track and Field Championships and raced in the 5,000-meter run in Berlin.
Everything was progressing nicely for Jager, who has four state running titles on his résumé and is the McHenry County area’s best runner ever.
The year 2010 has not been as kind for Jager. He experienced pain in his right foot early in the year, took two months off, then returned to training and attended the U.S. National Track and Field Championships in Des Moines in late June.
Jager didn’t make it far in the 1,500-meter run June 25.
“I knew something was wrong 50 meters into the race,” Jager said. “The pain got worse and worse. Two hundred meters in, I was pretty sure it was cracked.”
It turned out that Jager had fractured his navicular bone and had a lesion on his talus bone. On July 27, orthopedic surgeon Dr. Robert Anderson performed surgery on Jager’s foot in Charlotte, N.C. Anderson attached two screws to hold the navicular in place and shaved the lesion off the talus. Jager will have the foot immobilized and walk on crutches for six weeks. He hopes to return to running in four months.
Jager thought the problem started developing in September 2008, but he was able to run through it last year. He plans on not letting it deter him from his goal of running in the 2012 Olympic Games in London. He hopes to be back competing at the highest level sooner than that.
“The doctor said there should be no worries, that this will not be recurring,” Jager said. “Hopefully, it’s clear sailing from here. The U.S. Nationals will be at the end of June, then the Worlds are later in the summer. I may not quite be in peak shape for nationals, but I hope to be back for the European Circuit.
“The goal is still the same, to make the World Championships team next year. It will be a little bit like what I did in 2009.”
Jager is enjoying his most extended period of time at home in Algonquin since the summer of 2007. He’s spending time with his parents – Joel and Cathy – and visiting with friends. He plans on heading to Portland, Ore., in mid-September and going back to classes at Portland State.
Jager plans to be back training by November, working toward qualifying for the 5,000 meters. He knows he has a lot of catching up to do and will be at a huge disadvantage.
“I’ll be at Ground Zero, and it will be a tough year of working out with the guys,” Jager said. “I have to put some really, really good work in. It’s going to be even harder, but Worlds next year is still the goal.”