Missoula Big Sky sprinter Alex Mustard entered the 2014 track season with high expectations after a couple silver finishes from last spring.
But in mid-March, doubled over in pain in a Billings hotel room, his mind was a long way from this year’s State AA meet.
Mustard missed the beginning of this season’s competition after an emergency appendectomy last month. The senior Eagle is getting stronger by the day, though, inching closer to joining his teammates back on the track.
“I couldn’t do much for a couple weeks, but I’m just starting to get back into things and hopefully get back to form,” Mustard said Tuesday as he milled around with his teammates at the Big Sky triangular meet.
“It was tough timing, but I’m trying to make the most of it, trying to have a positive attitude. It’s better now than later in the season.”
Mustard and a few buddies made the trip to Billings for the State AA basketball tournament March 13-16 to support Big Sky’s girls’ team. His escape from school was quickly interrupted, though.
He woke up in the middle of the night vomiting, intense pains in his abdomen accompanying the heaves.
“I thought it was maybe the stomach flu or food poisoning,” he remembered thinking before trying to go back to sleep, “hoping I’d feel better in the morning.”
Instead, it was worse.
“The pain was getting progressively worse throughout the day and I kept puking every time I ate or drank anything,” he said.
At about 10 p.m. that night, after several consolatory phone calls home, Mustard went to the emergency room. Just hours later he was in surgery to remove his appendix with his family on its way, departing Missoula at 1 a.m. that night.
Recovery time from an appendectomy is fairly short, at least compared to most surgeries, so Mustard won’t miss too much more of the Big Sky track season. He said he hopes to be back for the Missoula Invitational this weekend at Missoula County Stadium.
If that’s unrealistic, the Eagles have two more meets scheduled next week that would make fine debuts, he said.
But as long as he has a chance to finish gold in the 100- and 200-meters dashes at Great Falls’ Memorial Stadium on May 30-31, where he starts doesn’t really matter.