Right. Left. Up. Right. Left. Up.
Facing down the second hurdle of the course at the Big Sky Outdoor Conference Championships last Saturday, Idaho State senior Shelby Erdahl began the series of steps she had done countless times before.
First, right, then left. But as she tried to explode up and over the hurdle, she was pulled back down to earth. Something had gone wrong. Something had popped -- and her hope of finishing her collegiate year with a bang was fading quickly.
“My foot wouldn't work,” she later explained to CBS Sports.
Erdahl didn’t know for sure, but she suspected she had "blown out" her Achilles tendon -- one of the most feared injuries in sports. But with a years-old goal of scoring in an individual event for the sake of her team hanging in the balance, Erdahl -- somehow, some way -- got back up and began to hobble forward.
First a step with her right foot, then a limp with her left. Then a twisting of her body over the next hurdle, forging her way ahead and eventually crossing the finish line with a time of 2:53.
The crowd went crazy, rewarding her for her perseverance, but, at least in Erdahl’s mind, the decision to continue was entirely obvious. It was for the sake of her teammates -- so of course she was going to keep pushing.
"I never really thought of stopping," she said. "To me, that would have let myself, my team, and my coaches down."
Erdahl had successful surgery on her Achilles four days later. The recovery and rehabilitation process for a blown Achilles is notoriously tough -- but with the resilience that Erdahl has already shown, there’s little doubt that she’ll blaze through this challenge as well.