It’s been quite a start to the track season for Sullivan’s Nikki Hutchcraft. Just last week, the senior broke a school record in the 100 meter that stood for over three decades, finishing with a run time of 12.19.
“When they first showed me the time, I didn’t process it at all,” Hutchcraft recalled. “My face was completely blank because I wasn’t even thinking it was a record.”
It’s an amazing feat considering Hutchcraft just joined the Golden Arrow track team last year. Even more incredible? She’s undergone six different knee surgeries over the last five years. Both her right and left knees are forever accessorized with surgical scars. With each surgery came devastation, as she knew track would be put on hold for the foreseeable future.
“I did not realize how long of a process that would be at all. It really hit me after that third ACL tear because there’s only like a 1% chance that you can re-tear an ACL. All I did was a simple twist. I didn’t get hit,” said the senior.
Three ACL tears. Three cartilage tears. But giving up sports wasn’t an option for the competitor. Hutchcraft was also a member of the Sullivan volleyball team. Nothing was going to keep her from running full speed through every challenge. “I never wanted to quit. I don’t know what I’d do if I quit. It’s just a big part of my life and I just want to keep going at it.”
Which makes Wednesday that much sweeter. Nikki signed her letter of intent to run track at the University of Evansville, a day her dad thought would never come.
“It’s an unbelievable journey,” Rob Hutchcraft said. “She’s got the heart of a lion and never gave up. Even when she was injured, she never gave up.”
If you’re wondering whether or not she fears a future injury, the answer is yes. But that won’t keep her from playing the sport she loves.
“I don’t want to have any regrets of not trying it so i just want to give it a shot and hope to succeed,” Nikki said.
“It’s always in the back of your mind especially after the first and second ACL surgery. They tell you they’re stronger than they were before then it happens again,” her dad added.
So the Golden Arrow will now become a Purple Ace, where she’ll run track and major in Exercise Science and Physical Therapy, a field she’s become quite familiar with.
“Having all these surgeries definitely got me into wanting to be a physical therapist because I wanted to be on the other side helping kids,” said Nikki.