Watching Alison Peacock run the 400-meter relay at the Lake County Invite April 25 provided a glimpse into the Vernon Hills girls track team’s recent past.
The Cougars had their most successful season ever in 2012, qualifying three relay teams — the 400, 800 and 1,600 — for the state meet. Peacock ran legs of all three races. She also qualified in the individual 300 hurdles, winning the sectional meet.
Peacock and classmate Alli Tran were the lone juniors on those relay teams. Leading a team back to state became a motivating force during the summer and into the fall.
“It was really important. Track can be an individual sport, but the relays are my favorite event,” Peacock said.
But life happened. Playing in a powder puff football game in October of last year, Peacock was carrying the football when her right leg gave out. Peacock said she thought she might have a bruise, but she didn’t think the injury was too serious.
She went to the hospital for an MRI. The next day, her doctor gave her the news: Her ACL had torn.
“It was a big shock,” Peacock said. “It’s a surprise how 30 seconds in a football game can take a six-month recovery.”
After surgery, Peacock was on crutches for six weeks. Grueling physical therapy sessions wore her down mentally and physically.
“I had built up scar tissue and the worst part was bending my knee,” Peacock said. “It was painful. I would end up crying through (physical therapy) and coming home afterwards.”
Help from her trainer, former Bears physical therapist Mike Kordecki, got her knee healthy again.
“He did not show mercy,” Peacock said.
During her recovery, Peacock thought about the 2012 season and about continuing the legacy she played a part in establishing. In April, on a rainy track at North Chicago, she returned.
“I was so nervous. I was waiting for that moment, and when I crossed the finish line, I was so happy,” Peacock said.
“Cougars coach Jason Rush added: “She’s a three-time state track (runner). She’s just getting back into it. It’s good to see her out there.”
Rush said he hopes Peacock will run the 400 relay and the open 200 the rest of the season.
Vernon Hills placed 12th in the 400 relay at the Lake County meet, its 53.92-second mark off the pace of the 50.74 the Cougars ran at state a year ago. Considering how far she’s come, Peacock is grateful to be where she is and is thinking about where she’s headed the rest of the season.
“I wasn’t prepared for the hardships I had to go through,” Peacock said. “It changed me, and it’s for the better.”