Chadwick’s Zach Loveland is gunning for a repeat trip to the Class 1 State Cross County Meet, after once questioning if he was healthy enough to run at all.
Loveland was born with underdeveloped lungs, or in medical terms, lung hypoplasia. He didn’t discover he had the condition, which can hinder his breathing, until he began competing in cross country.
“The first time it happened, I was really confused. I thought I hit a wall,” Loveland said. “But then it happened a couple weeks later at every practice. I thought, ‘Maybe I’m not supposed to be running.’
“We thought I had asthma for a while,” he added. “I was using (an inhaler) and nothing was helping. We tried breathing exercises and they didn’t help.”
Loveland is mindful now not to panic when he has trouble breathing. But he adds it’s a situation that is difficult to ever truly get used to.
“It’s kind of like if you’re lying on the ground and if someone that is heavier than you starts pushing down on your chest,” Loveland said. “It feels like my lungs contract. Every now and then, it feels like they’ve stopped working and it feels like my chest is collapsing.
“It randomly starts and stops," he added. "I’s mainly when I hit that wall. I’ve been trying to control my breathing more so I don’t hit that wall as fast as I normally do and I don’t have it as bad as I did last year.”
Loveland has not only been able to continue running, but improve on his personal records. He was 56th at State last year with a 5-kilometer time of 19:20.
“I’m stronger and it’s showing in my times,” he said.
Chadwick will travel to St. Francis Borgia on Saturday to compete in Class 1 District 5, followed by Sectionals the following weekend.