CAMANCHE – Eric Campie, on a whim, decided he wanted to add another sport to his high school resume.
The senior already garnered the ultimate goal, a college football commitment, and wanted to take part in something simply for fun. Why not?
Campie joined the Camanche High School track and field team with innocent intentions after the wrestling campaign concluded in mid-February. Fast forward three months, and his eyes have shifted towards something bigger – and notably more shiny – than a participation ribbon.
Campie swept the three major sprints in dominating fashion at a district meet Friday at Tipton, clinching spots in the state event in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dashes. He also runs the anchor in the Indians’ second-seeded sprint medley relay.
The lanky Coe College commit ranks second in the 100 and fourth in both the 200 and 400, which, naturally places lofty expectations upon a sprinter whose last experience on a track came in eighth grade.
“It’s [the high expectations] kind of nerve-wracking but track isn’t really a sport that I’m used to doing so it’s still fun to me,” Campie said. “In any other sport, I’d be much more nervous but it’s just fun right now because it’s a new experience.”
Perhaps the most gripping part of Campie’s postseason surge is that it almost didn’t happen. He sustained a stress fracture in his foot in March, an injury that sidelined him for the bulk of the regular season.
The timeline was eery. A stress fracture generally requires about a month of recovery and the state-qualifying district meet was just over 30 days away. Campie was briefly confined by a walking boot before he could gradually start walking, eventually receiving his physician’s blessing to ramp up the intensity.
Campie returned for the River Valley Conference Championships on May 2, where he turned heads with wins in his lone two events of the evening, the 200 and 400. Camanche coach Jerry Ford said the RVC meet was primarily geared towards allowing Campie outdoor experience before the important district meet. The wins were a welcomed bonus.
“I really didn’t know if he would return or not, I was hoping he would and was hoping that his first meet back would be districts,” Ford said. “We worked him into his first outdoor meet of the year (at the RVC meet). We never seen him run a 400 on an outdoor track. We thought his time could improve being on a bigger track with bigger corners and easier to run.”
While impressive, Campie’s wins were an afterthought on that brisk, damp night on the CHS campus. He was healthy, and he was ready to compete again, and that was the most important takeaway.
“I didn’t really know [if I would come back] but I knew it would be close,” Campie said. “I knew it was around a month recovery and districts was in about a month so I didn’t know how much time I would have to get ready if any at all.”
Campie and the Indians will make the trip to Des Moines Wednesday to check in with event officials and settle into their team hotel. Campie will have a crammed Thursday, as each of the three sprints are slated for that day. Luckily, he will have a day to rest Friday before the sprint medley and final heats the following day, a luxury not lost on Ford.
“He will have Friday as a recovery day, which is really good,” Ford said. “He will need it, after that, we will probably get bags of ice and have him sit in the bath tub with ice water. He has a lot of work cut out for him those two days so hopefully he can use that one day to recover... that’s the unknown because he hasn’t been in meet with days of rest so it is new territory.”
Campie will open his schedule with the 200 at 11 a.m. Thursday. The 100 is at 1:05 p.m. and the 400, which Campie acknowledged as his favorite event, will be held at 1:40 p.m.