Barlow’s Ryan Crouser breaks left foot at practice

Ryan Crouser was in the midst of the best discus workout of his life when the fifth metatarsal bone in his left foot snapped.

That happened about 3 p.m. Friday at Barlow High School, and by 7 p.m. he had been to a hospital and was out at the Dean Nice Invitational at Gresham High School to meet with extended family members who had gathered to watch cousin Sam Crouser try to break his own national record in the javelin.

Ryan Crouser, who broke the state shot put record last Saturday after being sidelined for a month with a groin injury, threw over 70 feet for the first time in practice this week. And prior to his injury, he had three throws in the discus that sailed past 220 feet. Even the throw that he let go of as the bone in his foot snapped was at the 220-foot mark, his father Mitch Crouser said.

Ryan was still coming to grips with his lost season, leaning on a set of crutches with his left foot encased in a boot.

“It’s one of those things,” Mitch Crouser said. “I feel bad for him. He’s really worked hard.”

The Crouser clan of throwers knows a thing or two about injuries. Dean (Sam’s dad), Mitch (Ryan’s dad) and Brian all had their careers cut short by injuries. It’s the brutal part of an activity that combines expert know-how with stress, torque and force exerted in unnatural ways on the body.

Dean Crouser once suffered from the exact same injury as Ryan and offered some encouraging words to his nephew.

“Once they put that Titanium pin in there it will be stronger than ever,” he said.

But it’s a tough setback for Ryan, who had worked diligently to overcome a slight tear in his adductor muscle in order to get back into competition and was poised for major breakthroughs in the shot and discus — the likes of which Oregon preps had never seen. He was targeting the national junior class record in the discus.

There is some thought that the Crouser cousins have advanced so far so young that they may be exerting more force on their bodies than they are physically able to handle. It’s important to note that Sam Crouser has grown into big body (at 6-5 1/2 and 240 pounds) but he still doesn’t shave. And Ryan, at 6-7, is still maturing as well.

Ryan became a valuable member of the Barlow varsity basketball team over the winter, and entered track season in good shape. But basketball did little to prepare him for the rigors of throwing shots puts 65 feet or discuses 200.

He said after his first meet of the season, his entire right side “felt like someone hit me with a baseball bat” the next day.

While he nursing the groin injury, Ryan was still working on technique in his basement. He set a piece of plywood on the floor and placed a mirror so that he could evaluate his footwork. And he spun on the plywood, 100 rotations at a time. That stress on his left foot may have caused a stress reaction or a stress fracture.

Ryan said he exerted a lot of force on his left foot, pressing down and lifting up. “Like a one-legged squat,” he said.

So much force, the bone couldn’t hold.

The early prognosis is that Ryan will spend three months in a cast after his surgery next week, and then will need to spend three additional months in physical therapy. His senior season of basketball is in serious jeopardy.

If he can recover fully, he can chase after his goals in the throws next year as a senior.

Meanwhile Friday, Sam had a cluster of throws in the 239-foot range but nothing over 24o as an expectant crowd watched attentively to see whether he could tack additional distance onto his U.S. high school record in the javelin.

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