Trost has Olympic dreams
Cannon Falls graduate Emi Trost seems closer to putting injuries behind her. With it, the former Division II national champion track star has Olympic hopes.
The middle of May 2017, Emi Trost covered 800 meters in 2 minutes, 4 seconds.
That was the best clocking of anyone that year in NCAA Division II women's track and field. A few weeks later Trost, a former University of Minnesota Duluth star was even more impressive, finishing 1,500 meters in 4:12.64.
That was her junior year at UMD. The latter time wasn’t only good enough to win a national title, it was the top time recorded at all three national meets combined — Division I, II and III.
It was an Impressive performance from the 2014 Cannon Falls graduate. But there’s another layer to it that makes it even more grabbing: She did it all with troubled legs.
Unbeknownst to Trost, she was suffering from a congenital problem called popliteal artery entrapment syndrome (PAES). It’s an uncommon condition where the calf muscle presses on the main artery behind the knee, trapping the artery and impeding blood flow to the lower leg and foot.
It left her with severe pain in her calves and shins in both legs throughout her entire college career, and was often coupled with numbness in those areas.
Trost first noticed those symptoms when she was in high school. But she figured they were simply the product of frequent workouts. Trost’s pain tolerance — which has since been deemed off the charts — helped her realize her high school dreams, including winning state cross country titles and track-and-field crowns in the 800 and 3,200.
She accomplished all of that while also dealing with a second congenital condition, a hemangioma tumor resting in her right knee. It was non-cancerous but created severe swelling.
“It’s been a process for me,” Trost said. “Both of these (conditions) are rare. For years, I just trained through them. My (current Minnesota Distance Elite team) coach (Chris Lundstrom) has been in awe of everything I’ve pushed through to get at the level I have.”
Trost almost reached her pain limit as a senior at Minnesota Duluth.
“I was to the point where I didn’t think I’d even have a season,” she said. “I was basically in the pool (doing workouts) instead of running. I was maybe running 10 miles per week and was sneaking by just doing that.”
Still, Trost did what she does. She gutted things out enough to earn a return trip to the national championships, where she was nowhere close to at her best, but still finished 19th in the 800 (2:13.32).
“I was happy just to participate given how injured I was,” Trost said.
Despite a college career that ranks among the best ever at MInnesota Duluth, Trost looks back on those times and wonders what might have been.
More importantly, these days, it’s left her wondering what might be. That wondering comes with a broad smile.
Trost’s running days are not over. Far from it. In fact, her design now is to put herself on a path to discover just how good she really can be.
“Emi has so much untapped potential,” said Lundstrom, who coaches her in the Twin Cities now. “Because of her injuries, she’s not been able to train the way Olympic-level athletes do. Still, she’s had some really fast times.”
Indeed, that is the 24-year-old’s dream, to reach the Olympics.
“I cannot wait to hold up an American flag behind me after I finish a race,” Trost said. “I want to put on a (USA) team uniform and toe a (starting) line. I want it so there is nothing holding me back, with no pain and no fear. I want that totally free feeling. God has blessed me with this talent. I’ve got a desire and a fire to pursue it at the highest level.”
If they come true, it won’t have been just talent and desire that allow Trost to achieve her dreams. A surgeon's knife will also have been involved.
Trost’s artery problems in her lower legs were finally diagnosed correctly after she graduated from Minnesota Duluth. She had surgery to alleviate that problem, leaving her feeling decidedly better in her calves and ankles.
Soon, she will also do something about that benign tumor in her right knee. Trost is hoping for surgery to remove it in the next month.
That may be the final step for Trost, the one which will allow her to finally run free.
That would be a first. It’s enough to leave her dreaming big. Really big.