Men's trackster Holmes ready to roll after long rehab process


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The junior hurdler pulled his hamstring in a workout just after Thanksgiving, and he was just starting to work his way back into the fold for the indoor season when he began experiencing back pain.

"I had inflammation in my lower back and ended up getting an injection there," Holmes said. "I thought it was going to work, so I started rehabbing that and working out a little bit — but it started to get worse again, so I went in for a second injection."

Holmes said the second injection seemed to work and produced "instant results." He spent the next several months rehabbing and working his way back to the track.

His rehab was a long, grueling process. Holmes said he spent an average of four to six hours a day doing rehab and strength exercises after the first injection. He was able to start incorporating running workouts into his schedule after the second; he ran stairs at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, work out with the rest of the track team and ran in an Alter-G treadmill.

"There's not a minute during the day when I'm not doing something to prevent further injury or to get better," he said.

Holmes said the success he had last year — he was an All-American running the second leg of the 4x400 relay that placed fourth at last May's NCAA meet, and he was the only athlete in the country to qualify for both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles — was key as he pushed through the setbacks.

"That little taste of success — it just keeps you going, because you want more and more every time you taste a little bit of success," he said. "I'm not OK letting my injury beat me down, and there have been times when I wake up and been like 'Why am I even doing this?' But at the same time, you've just got to wake up and get yourself over here."

Head coach Larry Wieczorek saw Holmes' drive even before he set foot on the track at Drake Stadium for the NCAAs last year.

"He's overcome adversity," Wieczorek said. "Athletes are faced with injuries, disappointments, and poor performances; he's demonstrated the ability to overcome that adversity — he came back from a pelvic stress fracture last year to have a great year for us."

Wieczorek said Holmes brings a certain attitude to the team with his dedication, both on and off the track — whether it's putting in extra time on his rehab or taking care of his body from a nutritional standpoint.

"He's the total package," he said.

Senior All-American Erik Sowinski said Holmes has been one of the team's best leaders, even while he was sidelined. But Sowinski admitted that there was something missing.

"When he's there, it's definitely a different [team] atmosphere," he said.

Wieczorek agreed.

"People talk about team chemistry — I'm not much of a chemist, but I do know you throw in different ingredients to make a chemical formula," he said. "When you take one or two of those things out, the chemistry is different. And when you take one of your key athletes out, it adversely affects that chemical formula."

But now Holmes is back; he placed fifth in the 400 meters at the Iowa Invitational on Feb. 17. Sowinski said he expects Holmes to give the team a boost at the Big Ten indoor meet this weekend in Lincoln, Neb. — and Holmes said he's prepared to deliver.

"I'm ready to get back into the competition," he said.

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