Though Salvador Escamilla is often seen running across campus, sporting a “Running Sucks” T-shirt, he takes running very seriously.
But after recent trouble with a nagging pain in the heel, he decided to spend a few days training on his bike.
And soon, Escamilla’s love for running was compromised.
While riding down the Pumpkinvine Nature Trail he collided with a pickup truck as he crossed a road. The impact sent him flying off his bike and left him in bad shape.
Despite the injuries, he remained conscious, and as people arrived at the scene he said, “I’ve got to race.”
The comment seemed out of place at the scene of a serious bike accident, but shows just where Escamilla’s priorities are at.
He is a competitor at heart, and thrives in challenging situations.
Last winter, he went to a Division I race at the University of Notre Dame to face off against some of the fastest people in the country. He blazed through the one-mile race in a time of 4 minutes and 23 seconds.
The same competitive fire that was in his eyes during that race returned when, after the accident, he vowed that he’d be back and better than ever.
In the hospital, Escamilla called the head coach of the cross country team, Rustin Nyce, to tell him about the accident and check in with the team.
Escamilla’s first words were “Dude, I’m sore,” Nyce said.
The casual tone of those words was reassuring to his worried teammates, but Escamilla was actually frustrated and disappointed that he’d have to sit out until he could recover from his injuries.
“You guys need to work extra hard for me,” Escamilla said.
Coming into this season Escamilla was striving to break the school record in the 8k run and to lead the team back to nationals.
Because of the coronavirus, NAIA has moved the championship from the fall to the spring, an April race in Iowa.
Earlier this month, in the first poll of the 2020 season, Goshen College was ranked 18 in the nation.
Escamilla is the top returning finisher from the team that went to the national championship a year ago. He finished 139th, at 26:42.
In the first race this fall, in September, the men finished sixth out of 18 teams in the Twilight Classic at Indiana Wesleyan University. Escamilla had the second-fastest time for the Maple Leafs.
The accident, though difficult to overcome, didn’t scare Escamilla. As a steeplechase runner, Escamilla has been known to jump barriers.
He was already looking for the next opportunity to show off his speed against his teammates.
And he did just that at the Crossroads League conference championship on Nov. 6 at Indiana Wesleyan University.
Even though Escamilla missed at least a month of training, he finished sixth for the team, in 27:44.
In a video chat with the team earlier in the fall, Escamilla challenged his teammates to races.
Of course, he was joking, but everyone could feel his ambition to get back to full health.
Ariana Perez Diener, a senior cross country runner, reminded him that he needs to heal first by using one of his favorite sayings: “Sana, sana, colita de rana. Si no sanas hoy, sanarás mañana.”
The Spanish saying means: “Heal, heal, little frog tail. If you don’t heal today, you’ll heal tomorrow.”
He frequently uses this blessing on injured teammates, so it seemed fitting to offer it back to him in this situation. It will take some time to get back, but Escamilla said he is not discouraged.
“I’m still chasing the same dreams that I was chasing before,” he said. “I just have to work a little harder.”