Ten months ago MSU Billings' Isaiah Girard was unsure of his future in track and field. Girard was dealing with torn ligaments in his right ankle that ultimately led to surgery.
Girard is fully healed from that injury, as showcased by his recent 2.05-meter high jump at the Battlin’ Bear/Yellowjacket Open.
“Just like the last 10 months I felt like I wasn’t going to be maybe quite as good as I maybe was in the past. I’ve proved a lot to myself in just the last two weeks to just be able to come out and not make excuses, look at that surgery as more of a speed bump than a career-injury thing," Girard said. "So it feels really good just to come back out here and be competitive and still be jumping those heights I was jumping before my injury.”
As with almost any athlete, doubt crept into Girard’s mind following the injury, especially after it was initially thought to be a sprain. He spent the entirety of summer either in a walking boot or in rehab just trying to get back to where he was in the 2019 outdoor season when he claimed the Great Northwest Athletic Conference high jump title.
“I think a big confidence builder is we’ve had three meets so far and I’ve just progressed every week. Just getting better by one height every week," said Girard. "That’s helped a lot with confidence. Just being back out here and just feeling like myself again and just going with the flow. The rehab really helps, and I tape every week, as well.”
Girard’s jump of 2.05 meters puts him on track to take aim at his own school record of 2.08 meters, which he set in 2019. If you had told Girard last May that he’d be in contention for another conference title, he probably wouldn’t have believed you.
“Shoutout to my trainer, Tom Ebel. He’s awesome, takes care of me every day and helped me get back to this," Girard said. "It’s quite the comeback journey for me. I’m in some disbelief, not going to lie. I didn’t expect myself to come back this hard.”
The Dillon native is set to finish up his track and field career this spring and will be student teaching art education next semester with goals of being a high school teacher. But before that, he’s hoping to bring home one more GNAC title.
The GNAC outdoor track and field championships are May 14-15 in Monmouth, Ore. The NCAA Division II outdoor track and field championships are scheduled for May 27-29 in Allendale, Michigan. Girard’s jump of 2.05 is good enough to hit the provisional qualifying standard.