Blair Henderson blew away the field while a student at St. Louis High School. Now he starts his college career with high hopes at LSU. (American Press Archives)
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2014 6:36 PMBlair Henderson’s college career didn’t start quite how he planned.
The former St. Louis Catholic track star was injured after just two cross country meets in the fall. Henderson raced in the Cowboy Stampede in Lake Charles and the Chile Pepper Festival in Arkansas before he suffered a stress reaction in his left tibia.
“It was pretty frustrating going through another injury,” Henderson said. “I’ve been injured every year I’ve run. Over here, it’s way different than getting injured in high school as far as the recovery, therapy and trainers and everything.”
On top of the stress reaction, Henderson had to overcome neuritis in his right knee and leg. Even though he had to sit out the rest of the cross country season, he was happy with how he healed.
“I recovered from the injuries pretty quickly without any delays. The training speaks for itself. I was out for a month and a half and then came back and ran a personal best without actually getting training on the track. I was training in the pool and on the elliptical and the stationary bike.”
With that rehab and some weight training, Henderson started running again two weeks ago and was able to run a personal best time of 1:49.32 in the 800.
Now, he’s looking forward to his first college track meet. Henderson will travel to the Auburn Indoor Invitational in Birmingham, Ala. this Saturday.
Henderson will run in the 800, the distance medley relay and the 4x400 relay with the ‘B’ Team.
“I’m really excited about this weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing what I can do,” Henderson said. “Last year on this exact track, I ran 1:52 (in the 800) in December. I’m hoping to be a little bit faster than 1:52, maybe 1:51 or 1:50.
“I’m not going into the race looking for a specific time, I just want to follow the strategy my coach put in place, which is to do what I did in practice— sit on somebody, don’t think I have to take the pace or anything and then go when I feel comfortable to go.”
Even though he’ll be on the B Team for the 4x400 relay, Henderson said he is happy to run the 4x400 relay, an event he didn’t think he’d be able to run after high school. Henderson also said he’s excited for the distance medley relay, something he didn’t get the chance to do in high school.
Another welcomed aspect of college track that Henderson didn’t often experience in high school is competition. In the college ranks, he has plenty.
“It’s way more fun to run in college than high school for me,” Henderson said. “In high school, it’s just me running by myself. In college, I can run and just sit on someone and it’s about who has whatever is left, and they don’t always know what I have left. It’s always a surprise. In high school, I had to set the pace, go on my own and run a time and it’s all on my own. In high school, I felt like it was no different running in practice than running in a meet. Here, every day in practice is like what a meet should have been for me in high school.”
Khadevis Robinson serves as Henderson’s go-to coach. Robinson, who represented the United States at the 2004 Athens Olympics, also specialized in the 800 during his track career.
“He reminds me of one of my high school coaches, Johnny Giordano, a lot,” Henderson said. “They’ve become friends over the offseason. They communicate well and coach alike, so it wasn’t as much of a jump for me getting from high school to college. They both care about helping you individually and giving everyone the attention they need. If you have a question or anything, you can always go to him and he’ll direct you in the right path. If you want an example, he’ll pull up a YouTube video and show you ‘this is what the pros do, this is how I’m telling you to do it and this is why.’ It’s really helpful.”
It’s only Henderson’s freshman year, but he’s got lofty plans to compete with the best runners in the nation.
“My main goal this season is to make it to Nationals,” he said. “That could be seen as far fetched, but I believe I can do it because I have all the tools to be successful. With me running the 1:49 after the adversity I went through this offseason, at this point I feel like once I get a few races in, who knows what I’ll be able to run.”