Previously injured runner returns for final season

Anne Buie

Correction: An earlier version of this story reported Soderman had received a MRI. Soderman actually recieved an ultrasound on his foot. The Appalachian apologizes for the error.

Two years ago, then-junior cross-country runner Sean Soderman found himself with plantar’s facitis in one foot, and a stress fracture in his other foot in the midst of the 2009-10 cross-country season.

Soderman, now a graduate student at the university, chose to disregard his injuries and compete in the 2010 SoCon conference regardless.

The men’s cross-country team won their sixth straight conference title – but it came at a personal price to Soderman.

He continued to ignore his injuries and compete for regionals, a mere two weeks later.

“I was just getting hurt and hurt throughout that part,” Soderman said. “I ran at regionals but it just wasn’t that good, I was in a lot of pain and I wasn’t running that much.”

Soderman took time off to recuperate, but he returned to ASU’s track and field team for the 2009-10 season.

He set a school record and claimed the conference title in the 5,000-meter during indoor season and earned the conference title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase during outdoor season.

But a rolled ankle, right before Soderman’s senior year, threatened to take the all-conference runner out of the sport completely.

“I didn’t think anything of it at first,” he said. “I ran on it for another week or two and it progressively got worse. About three weeks after that, I couldn’t walk on it anymore.”

An ultrasound showed Soderman had partially torn his soleus off his Achilles tendon.

Soderman said he was “disappointed.”

Assistant Athletic Trainer for Track and Field and Cross Country Eric Bengtson had Soderman go through a procedure called Platelet Rich Plasma.

The procedure accelerates the healing of tendon injuries naturally without subjecting the patient to significant risk, according to

“An Achilles injury for a runner can be dangerous,” Bengtson said. “This procedure helped him get back into running shape more quickly. We’ve used this on many athletes and it shows that it helps a lot.”

Soderman was able to run again – but not at the pace he was used to.

So, he was left with a choice – either run his final season and help his teammates clinch another conference title or take time the time to heal.

Soderman said he turned to his girlfriend Brittney Caudle, senior art education and studio art major, to help him emotionally.

“I remember Sean telling me that it was so hard because he didn’t want to let his team down,” Caudle said. “Mentally, Sean always put his team first and I had to encourage him to keep working through it but not going into it so fast to re-injure himself.”

In the end, Soderman didn’t run for the 2011-12 season.

But after securing a spot in Appalachian’ exercise science graduate program, he made the decision to run in the 2012-13 cross-country season.

Coach Curcio said he was “extremely excited” to have Soderman back for the upcoming season.

“With the return of Sean to the roster, we bring back four years of collegiate running experience,” Curcio said. “He has been a large part of the three of the last four SoCon titles we have won.”

Story: JAMES ASHLEY, Intern Sports Reporter