Injury sidelined him last year
Last year at this time, New was unable to compete after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament while playing intramural football. He had surgery to repair the tear on Oct. 24, 2002, and the doctors told him he would be unable to run for three months, which seemed like a lifetime to New.
His friend and teammate, Jarred Zywein, had also torn his ACL about a month earlier than New did. The two traveled together to physical therapy appointments and have even become roommates this year.
"Jerrod really helped me out because he was going through the same thing I was, but he was a little bit ahead of me so I knew what to expect," New said.
New spent 17 days in Italy in January 2003 on a program to study abroad, and was able to resume running when he returned. He immediately jumped on the treadmill and took every part of his rehabilitation program out that didn't relate to running.
New returned to action at the fourth meet of the season, at Washington & Lee. As the season went on, he continued to improve and look forward to the competition at the conference meet.
Six months and two days after his surgery, when most patients are just beginning to rehabilitate, New was competing in the SCAC Championships. He finished second in the 400 meters with the second-best time of his life, and he anchored a 1600 relay team that tied the school record.
Owens said she thinks losing part of his season made New realize how important it really was to him.
"I think he developed a much better appreciation for what he is able to do," Owens said. He loves the sport. He has recovered and now he's able to sprint again full force and he appreciates it so much more."
He has added the 100
But now New is facing a new challenge. He has added the 100 to his repertoire, making the trifecta of 100, 200 and 400 his individual events.
The 400 is the first sprint, and the 100 is the event immediately following it. Most runners choose to pair the 200, later in the meet, with either the 400 or the 100. Owens said New has the ability to be strong in each one.
"It's almost impossible to do, the way meets are set up," Owens said. "With him in the shape he was this year, I wanted to see what he could do in the 100 meters. He's in immaculate shape right now, and his fitness level is as high as it can be."
New is just .2 seconds away from the automatic qualifying time for nationals in the 400, his best event. But beyond his own expectations, he said he has a bigger goal in mind for this season.
"I will do whatever it takes to help the team win conference," New said. "That's what the overall goal is. I've won races before, and I've been all-conference before, and people have won individual events at conference before. But we've never had a team trophy. This is going to be a heck of a year for us."