The Grand Valley State cross country team won the Division II National Championship last Saturday in Joplin, Mo. Niles’ Madie Rodts helped the Lakers win the title despite having surgery Nov. 5. (Leader photo/Provided)

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Rodts helps Lakers to national championship

Published 2:01pm Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Niles’ Madie Rodts had an interested voyage on her way to helping Grand Valley State University win the Division II National Cross Country Championship in Joplin, Mo. last weekend.

Rodts, a junior, had an emergency appendectomy Nov. 5, just 12 days before the national championship race for the No. 3-ranked Lakers.

“That Sunday I was feeling pain throughout the day,” Rodts, who will compete in today’s Thanksgiving Day Run, said. “Sunday night I started feeling a sharp pain, but I thought it was just a gas bubble or something.

“So I called my mom (Mary Ann) and she said I should probably go to the hospital. My roommate took me to the emergency room and they said it was an appendicitis. After some tests I ended up in surgery three hours later.”

While waiting for the surgery, Rodts was told before seeing her surgeon that she wouldn’t be able to run for a couple of weeks.

“That’s when I started to cry,” she admitted. “I was really upset. But my doctor ran at Hope College and he told me I would be fine and he had ran a couple of days after an appendicitis. But I was still upset because I didn’t know if I was going to be able to run or not. I didn’t know if my coaches were going to let me run or how fast I would heal.”

The surgery was on a Monday and by Wednesday she was already riding a bike as part of her cross-training. On Thursday she was biking and running and by Friday she was running, although she did pass out because of the medications and how her body was reacting to the trauma it had experienced.

Not about to let it stop her, Rodts ran 12 miles on Sunday and began regular workouts with the team the week prior to nationals.

“I was determined to get back and run,” Rodts said. “I told myself I have got to do this. I worked all season for this. This was not going to hold me back.”

She admitted there was some tightness in her stomach due to the surgery, but by the time she got to Missouri and it was time to compete at the nationals she felt normal.

“I knew I was going to be fine running, but I still had to get over the mental part of it,” she said.

Rodts wasn’t the only member of the Grand Valley team to experience issues prior to the national championship race. In fact, Rodts said the season was filled with different issues.

One runner found out she had a stomach virus the week of nationals, while another had had calf muscle issues on and off throughout the season. Still another, senior Monica Kinney, had not competed since last year’s Division II National Championships where she earned All-American status.

“I think all of the problems made us stronger,” Rodts said. “We just wanted it so badly.”

The Lakers scored 101 points, just four points better than runner-up and defending national champion Augustana of South Dakota.

Jessica Janecke of Scales Mound, Ill. was the top finisher for Grand Valley as she finished fourth in her very first national meet. She ran a time of 20:23.2.

Rodts finished 42nd with a time of 21:25.8.

“It’s still kind of surreal,” she said. “I haven’t stopped smiling. It’s just crazy.”

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