By Jim Fenton, The Enterprise (Brockton)
BRIDGEWATER, Mass. -- There is both joy and pain involved when she remembers the 2017 Massachusetts State Collegiate Athletic Conference Indoor Track & Field Championships.
The joy for Bridgewater State University junior Jayci Andrews of Plymouth comes from winning three individual events and being part of two relay teams that finished first.
The pain is the result of what happened during her first event of the day, the long jump, when Andrews suffered what turned out to be a fractured navicular bone in her left foot.
Andrews competed the rest of the day with the injury, thinking it was a sprain, only to learn the next day how bad it really was.
Just like that, her standout sophomore season was over when Andrews was on target to compete in the NCAA Division 3 Championships, just like she did twice as a freshman the year before.
"I was so depressed,″ said Andrews, a Plymouth South High graduate. "I couldn't even go to practices to watch or the meets. It was killing me.
"I wanted to run so badly. You never realize actually how much you like running until you can't do it.″
Andrews was in a boot for 12 weeks, missing the entire spring season, and wasn't unable to start training again until last summer.
As she worked her way back, Andrews was determined to regain the form that allowed her to pile up points beginning as a freshman and during the indoor season as a sophomore.
It has been mission accomplished this winter for Andrews.
She is returning to the NCAA Championships in Birmingham, Ala., after qualifying in the 60-meter hurdles with a school-record time of 8.86 seconds.
Andrews, seeded eighth in the nation, will run a preliminary race on Friday afternoon with the final taking place on Saturday afternoon.
It is a long way from where Andrews was at this time last March when she was only starting to heal.
At that MASCAC/New England Alliance meet where Andrews was hurt 13 months ago, she won the hurdles, 200 and long jump and was on the 4x200 and 4x400 relay teams that also placed first.
"I had no idea it was fractured,″ said Andrews. "I guess the adrenaline and the tape kept the pain away.
"The next day, I woke up and was so sore. I couldn't even get off my bed. I had to have people come in and help me.″
That began a long road of getting the foot right again, and Andrews had to gain confidence in it during the early stages of this season.
Slowly but surely, that came and Andrews continued lowering her own school record in the 60-meter hurdles.
"I felt like I had to go out there and prove myself, that I could do this and show I could come back,″ said Andrews, who owns seven individual BSU records. "But I lost all the confidence in myself. I was doubting myself going into meets. But I kept building it back.″
As a freshman in 2016, Andrews was 11th in the 400-meter race during the NCAA indoor championship meet and 10th in the same event in the outdoor meet.
This time around, Andrews is competing in a different event and would like nothing better than to add All-America honors to what she's done in the comeback season.
"That would make me so happy,″ said Andrews. "It would be a great feeling to think about how I was hurt last year and come back as an All-American.
"I always say I hate running, I don't know why I do it. But ever since I got hurt, I'm like I don't know what I would do without it. I used to think I hated it, but I'll never take it for granted again.″