Everyone loves a comeback story. Whether in football, basketball, baseball, and even track, people always love to see an underdog, who has been through a major conflict, bounce back and accomplish his goals. This year all spectators in Florida should have their eyes out for Jose Penalver, who is recovering from a tumor extraction from his pelvis just a few months ago.
The now American Heritage middle distance stud, is adjusting to his new school and new team as he transferred from Cooper City High School during the summer. Jose is very thankful that the team took him in just like he had been with them since freshman year, and he was grateful for the instant chemistry. He transferred to an academic and athletic powerhouse in South Florida, in hopes of being able to achieve his goals.
It all started out with some groin soreness during the beginning of cross country season for the senior Jose. At his second meet at the Spanish River Invitational, Jose made it to the ¾ of a mile mark of the 5k, where he collapsed in agonizing pain, realizing something was seriously wrong Jose went to his doctor who at first thought it was a bulging disk, but after further discovery it turned out to be a benign tumor in his pelvis.
After three weeks of waiting to have surgery, the surgery to remove the tumor was a success and Penalver found himself on his "golden crutches", that his father had painted, for two weeks. After he thought he was in the clear Jose had another MRI, where it revealed that the bone graft on his femur had spilled over, and he had to wait to see if it would fix itself or if another surgery was to occur. Thankfully it did fix itself and as of January 24th Jose has been cleared to begin running again.
Penalver, has some big goals for the upcoming 2017 season as he wants to run under 1:50 in the 800 and compete for his native country, Venezuela, at the World Youth Championships. When asked what it would mean to Jose to run for Venezuela he responded, "It would mean all the years of hard work would be paying off." Jose's last goal is to have an undefeated 800-meter season to finish out his high school career on a good note.
As the season gets underway in a few weeks, Jose is looking forward to the Florida Relays in Gainesville where he hopes to be 100% and to go sub 1:50.
(Watch Jose run a PR of 1:55.10 to finish second at the Louie Bing Classic.)
Jose's coach Greg Barnes had high praise for Jose as he explained, "He's very motivated to come back strong, I just told him to be patient and I have a plan and if we stick to it everything will be ok. What's special about Jose is that he knows what's going on and what he has to do when it comes to training, and he wants to be great so when you have a kid like that in your program he makes me motivated and the team as well."
Jose is an uncommitted senior who will be looking to attract some big schools with some fast times. So keep your eye open for this comeback and we will see what he has in store for all of us.