Thursday , April 26, 2018 - 10:00 AM
SYRACUSE — Connor Jones and Adam Hedquist run through warm-up routines with the rest of their Davis High track and field teammates. It’s a sunny and windy day at the Davis District Championships at Syracuse High in March.
The distance running events are going to start soon. The fact they are running these days is noteworthy on its own.
In September 2017, about a week before the Region 1 cross country meet, Jones, Hedquist and teammates Seth Stromberg, McKennion Melton and Sara Miller were involved in a serious car crash near a Davis High parking lot.
STORY & PHOTOS: 2018 Davis District meet
Jones suffered a broken pelvis, broken ribs, a fractured skull, lacerations on his spleen and kidney, a separated AC joint in his shoulder and several cuts to his face.
Hedquist was sitting next to Jones in the back of the car. He suffered a broken pelvis, a couple of broken ribs, some nicks and cuts from the glass and a big cut on his head.
“It was scary, I don’t know, I was in shock. Nothing like this has ever happened to me,” Hedquist said.
They spent days in the hospital, weeks in wheelchairs and subsequent months starting to walk and run again.
But as they line up at the starting line for the race, everything looks normal. In fact, everything is fairly normal now for the two runners.
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The car turned left from Main Street in Kaysville into the Davis High School parking lot.
Jones, sitting in the back and on the right side, remembers seeing headlights, then everything went dark. The next thing he remembers is waking up in an ambulance.
Both Jones and Hedquist were knocked unconscious from the crash.
“We both came to and we were both making weird breathing noises ... I could tell he was hurt a lot worse than I was just by how he sounded,” Hedquist said.
Jones’ memory from the crash until the region cross country meet the week after is foggy at best, he says.
He remembers the ambulance ride to McKay-Dee Hospital, where EMTs were asking him questions: When is your birthday? What is your name? What day is it?
“I think I knew what happened, but I was kind of like in shock a little bit. I can’t believe this actually happened, you hear about it happening, but it never happens to you,” Jones said.
Jones’ friends and coaches all tell him the first questions out of his mouth when he woke up in the intensive care unit at McKay-Dee were ‘How is Adam?’ and ‘When can I run again?’
Adam is OK, they would say.
The answer to the second question, then, was at least a few months until he could run again. Jones got the worst of the injuries, having essentially been directly struck by the other car.
Recovery wasn’t an easy process for Jones. He didn’t walk until about six weeks after the crash, and couldn’t run on a flat surface until February.
Hedquist ended up at Ogden Regional Medical Center, but he had plenty of updates on Jones’ condition.
Jones’ uncle, Bo Poulson, works at Ogden Regional (“I know, what are the odds?” Hedquist says) and was one of the emergency room doctors who tended to Hedquist. Poulson was in touch with Jones’ parents and relayed updates to Hedquist.
Jones and Hedquist were both in the hospital for less than a week and were able to go to the Region 1 cross country meet in wheelchairs.
“It was way sick to be there ... it was a real eye-opener for a little bit — running isn’t everything,” Jones said. “I think we were still glad we didn’t die, we were able to still go and watch.”
Before the races started, all the teams got together and did a cheer for Davis instead of the usual pre-race cheers each team does.
Davis edged Weber to win the girls region championship. On the boys side, the Darts had enough depth despite their top four runners not racing that they still won.
“When they announced that the boys won, they gave us a standing ovation. It got me, like, choked up,” Davis cross country head coach and track and field distance coach Paul Timothy said.
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Racers feel the sun and wind as they prepare to run at the Davis District meet in March.
Jones is there to race in the 800 meters. It’s easy to pick him out of the gaggle of skinny distance runners with his bleach-blond hair.
Jones runs pain-free now — Hedquist’s ribs will ache every once in awhile — and has few scars from the crash. Most of them are tiny specks on the right side of his face.
Jones races the 800 in 2:05.94 and grabs 10th place, despite just a month-and-a-half of running on a flat surface again. It was his first meet of the track season.
Timothy has a front-row seat to the pair’s recovery. He’s not surprised they’re running competitively right now, even when their doctors said it would likely be April or May before they could run at all.
“I’m surprised that they’re already running (the 1600 meters) in the 4:40’s, that surprises me,” he said.
They’re still a long way from their previous levels, however.
Hedquist set his personal record of 4:36 in the 1600 two years ago when he was a sophomore; he didn’t participate in track and field last year because of constant growing pains.
“You always want more than you have, I guess, because both of us wish we were back where we were and wish we were faster,” Hedquist said.
The state qualifying mark in 6A in the 800 is 1:57.69 this year; Jones’s only time so far this season in the event is that 2:05.94. The qualifying mark in the 1600 is 4:20.30 and Jones posted a 4:35.02 at the Desert Hills Invitational two weeks ago.
Hedquist specializes in the 1600 and 3200. The 3200 qualifying time is 9:31.65 and Hedquist ran a 10:09.42 at the Davis Super Meet in March.
In Timothy’s words, it would be an incredible comeback if either of them qualified for the state meet, held May 17-19 at BYU.
Jones said he’s learned faith and patience throughout his recovery process. It helps him whenever he wishes he could run at the level he used to. Even if they don’t qualify for the state meet this year, it won’t be the end of the world.
“I’m lucky to be where I am and I should be grateful for that, so I just kind of think of that and it helps me through it,” Jones said.
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