Running has been a major part of Brian Stankiewicz’s life since he was in seventh grade. The sophomore cross country runner from Merrimack, New Hampshire loves running but he admits that there was a time when it was not so enjoyable.
Brian had a condition called Pectus excavatum, which basically means that his sternum had faced inwards as opposed to outward. This left a softball sized indent in his chest and limited him to about 80 percent lung capacity. During his sophomore year of high school, Brian underwent a procedure at Dartmouth Children’s hospital that would correct the problem and give him full lung capacity. He had two titanium bars inserted into his chest that structurally corrected the problem immediately, but left Brian with a road to full recovery ahead of him.
“For me, the worst part was the recovery. It took about a year for me to return to running form because I had to learn how to breathe properly again.” Brian said that in the end though it was definitely worth it. “The increased lung capacity allowed me to cut about two minutes off my 5k time and about a minute off my mile.” Brian was able to have the bars removed from his chest during senior year of high school and he still has them at home today. They serve as a memory of the procedure and his recovery, which has allowed him to run for the Saint A’s cross country team.
So far this year cross country has had three meets including the National Catholic Championships at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. Saint A’s finished seventeenth out of the twenty-four schools in the competition.
Brian has a very optimistic outlook for both himself and the team for the remainder of this season. “For me personally I hope to continue to get my times down, but it’s really all about the team. This is a rebuilding year for us. We lost three of our top six runners from last year but as a team we have been improving week in and week out and I like our chances going forward. Coach Finn and Coach Fox are great and as long as we listen to their plan, we’ll have success down the road and it will be fun.”
The Hawks have several meets left this season, but the one that Brian is looking forward to the most is the Northeast-10 Championships because whichever team places higher between Saint A’s and SNHU adds to their school’s overall point total towards the Queen City Cup. “It’s all about beating SNHU and helping to bring the cup to the hilltop!” Be sure to support Brian and the rest of the Hawks cross country team in their upcoming meets this season!