KAYSVILLE — Luke Crossley stood on the podium with the No. 3 underneath, held up his medal from the boys 1600-meter race at the Region 1 track championships last week and smiled.
The Roy High senior distance runner was ecstatic, not only because he broke some personal records in his events and helped the Royals win the Region 1 title, but also because a few months ago he was in the hospital with IVs and oxygen hooked to him, unsure if he would competitively run again.
Over the winter, Crossley contracted COVID-19, recovered, then contracted multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, MIS-C is a “condition where different body parts can become inflamed, including the heart, lungs, kidneys, brain, skin, eyes or gastrointestinal organs.”
So far, MIS-C appears to be heavily associated with COVID-19, according to the CDC, but on the same page where the CDC explains that, it also has a sentence that reads, “We do not yet know what causes MIS-C.”
It resulted in a four-day hospital stay at Primary Children’s in Salt Lake City, use of an oxygen tank for weeks after he came home and doubt whether he would competitively run again.
Crossley has since come back with aplomb. He’s qualified for this week’s state track meet in both the 1600 and 800, as well as the 4x800 meter relay, which Roy won at the region meet.
And as far as getting as sick as he did, Crossley said he was grateful it was him — an active teenager — instead of someone else.
“I was definitely surprised that it hit that hard, especially after COVID wasn’t that bad,. But once I realized what it was and once they diagnosed me, I was just kind of grateful that it was me, and it wasn’t anyone like a grandparent or someone with bad lungs or a bad heart because I don’t know if the recovery would’ve been there,” Crossley said.
The trouble for Crossley didn’t start with his positive COVID-19 test in January. His trouble started a few weeks later.
“Wednesday, start of February, I finish a 400-meter workout, feeling good about an indoor meet at the Ice Oval and then that night I get home from a girls basketball game, I felt super cold, super sick, achey and the symptoms as the week progressed just kept getting worse,” Crossley said last week between races at the Region 1 track and field championships.
“I went to the ER. They said, ‘Oh, you have COVID. Go home and get better,’ and then my sister was kind of mad about that because she works at the health department, she was telling them how it was MIS-C,” Crossley said.
A second emergency room visit resulted in Crossley going to Primary Children’s Hospital in Salt Lake City. It was just in time because Crossley did indeed have MIS-C.
“So then when we got to Primary Children’s, on the way there, my kidneys started to fail and it was getting bad. I was just in the car, I was starting to turn yellow, it was bad. They wheeled me in there in a wheelchair,” Crossley added.
He stayed there for a few days and eventually recovered, but he had to take an oxygen tank home and was on oxygen for weeks after he went home. Crossley went to school one day to see how it would go, then came home and slept 14 hours and stayed home until he was better.
“They said I might never competitively run again. I was looking at golf,” Crossley said.
When Crossley isn’t preparing for a race or running one in a meet, he’s super invested in his teammates’ success.
During the boys 3200-meter race at the Region 1 meet, Crossley ran back and forth, width-wise across the football field to encourage a teammate that was running.
During the boys 4x400 meter relay, the final race of the meet that clinched Roy’s region championship, part of Crossley’s mind was focused on recalling the details of his MIS-C ordeal.
The other part was watching the race.
“I never had any doubt where I was going to recover where I could at least live a whole life and so the outlook was positive the whole time,” Crossley said.
“It was just where I was gonna go: golf or running some laps ...” he said, pausing to yell at the track where teammate Colby Anderson was running. “Get ‘em, Colby! Get ‘em! Track him down!”
At the region meet, Roy took first place in the boys 4x800 relay with Crossley running the first leg. Individually, Crossley took third place in the 800 with a time of 1:58.58 and was third in the 1600, clocking 4:22.44.
As a testament to how much Crossley has gotten back to normal as the season’s progressed, his 1600 meter time a month earlier was 4:38.75 at the Davis Invite.
His times in his events are better, and he certainly feels much better compared to earlier this year, when he was in the hospital, using an oxygen tank and pondering if golf was going to be his next hobby.