In his sophomore year, it was his back: a pars defect in the L5 vertebrae sustained during the last football game of the season. It kept him away from athletic activity for six months and when he returned to the track team mid-spring, he only threw shot put the remainder of the season.
Now as a junior, the back pain is gone, but Nadim Elhage from Churchill High School has tendonitis in his right elbow. He says it is likely due to overuse and only affects him when throwing shot put, not discus.
The injury is severe enough that he takes pain medication and wears a heavy duty brace on the elbow during competition. It was so problematic that there were doubts about whether he would be able to compete at the county championship three weeks ago. Had he been unable to go, Churchill would not be this year's county team champion, but he worked through the pain to finish third in the shot put and win the discus. Churchill won the team title by three points.
He again helped his team to win the regional title, but at the state meet, there was no team trophy on the line by the time the 4A boys warmed up for the discus towards the end of the meet. His fifth place finish in the shot put with a personal best throw of 49-08.25 accounted for nearly one-third of Churchill's team points at that time.
He took the lead in the competition on the first throw with a mark of 146-04. He slipped to second place on the next throw, but regained the lead in the finals to win his first state title with a throw of 150-03. It was the fourth best mark by a Montgomery County junior in the last five years.
He said he won't have time to rest the elbow as he moves on to a busy summer of football camps and track camps.
Sam Martin came through the first 400 meters of the second section of the 4A boys 800 thinking, "This sucks!"
Most often in Montgomery County, "even splits" is the name of the game and the race rarely goes out faster than 57 or 58 seconds. Some of the other boys in the state treat the 800 more like an all-out mad dash.
Edose Ibadin from Duval High School led the pack through 400m in 52 seconds. Martin was in the middle with a 54 second split.
"It's just like nationals or Penn," Martin explained, "You've just got to get out."
He felt he had a mental advantage being the best miler in the field. He knew runners would start coming back to him and they did. In the final 200 meters, he picked off several runners and was only behind the leader.
"I wanted to catch Ibadin, but those last 50 meters my legs were locked."
Ibadin won in 1:52.53. Martin set his personal best by over two seconds with a time of 1:53.91. It was almost five seconds faster than his time from the state championship a year ago.
Shortly following the race, Martin was able to name the five Montgomery County athletes from the last six years that would still remain ranked ahead of him on Mocorunning's "Since 2006" leaderboard.
"The kid knows running stats like nobody I've ever met," said Richard Montgomery Coach Davy Rogers.
In the 4A 4x400, a fast pace kept RM's Shahidou Mariko near the back of the pack despite a 51 second split. Martin picked off three runners with a 50 second split. Zack Angel was passed by two runners with a 51 second split and David Hamilton passed the same two runners with a 50 second split. The result was a fourth place finish in 3:21.81, the fastest time in Montgomery County this year.