A little more than two months ago, Errin Baynes signed his National Letter of Intent to compete in track and field at the University of Southern California.
That morning he signed, both he and Patriots' head coach Chris Daugherty spoke about how exciting it was to have the collegiate decision out of the way so Baynes could focus on the upcoming season.
The two-time defending West Virginia state champion, who has gone over 7-feet in the high jump and nearly 22 feet in the long jump, had big expectations for the season and one of those was an appearance in this week's Penn Relays in Philadelphia.
Unfortunately, Baynes has competed just once this season and despite posting a qualifying mark for Penn, the Wheeling Park senior said on his Twitter account that he wouldn't be competing this week as he continues to rehab from a minor knee surgery earlier this month.
Baynes hasn't even begun any track-related exercises yet, but hopes he can get clearance for next week's Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Championship meet, which opens for the 5A schools on Monday at St. Clairsville's Red Devil Stadium.
The Patriots' three-sport standout isn't exactly sure when he suffered the injury, per se. However, he noticed it more and more in basketball season.
"During basketball, I thought I had patellar tendonitis, but it was actually the cartilage that was causing the pain," Baynes said.
The only competition Baynes entered was an invitational on March 31 at Upper St. Clair High School. Despite a lack of practice and steps, Baynes still soared over 6-ft-10, which is by far the best mark in the Ohio Valley this spring.
"After that jump, my knee locked up," Baynes said. "And then, this big piece of cartilage, probably three-fourths the size of a marble was moving around my knee and getting wedged between the joints."
Shortly after that meet and confering with his family and doctors, the decision was made to undergo the surgery.
"The surgery was the best thing that ever happened," Baynes said. "You could take your finger and push (the cartilage) around the knee because it wasn't attached to anything.
"If I hadn't had the surgery and continued to jump on it, the cartilage would have locked my knee up when I was jumping and my muscles would have failed. I could have tore my ACL or something, so it was really a blessing in disguise."
If Baynes can't get back for the OVAC, he'll have to decide quickly whether or not he can get back for the regional.
The Class AAA regional will be held the week following the OVAC and that leads right into the state track meet.
BUCKEYE 8 CHAMPIONSHIP
The first area league championship meet of the season unfolds this afternoon at Bellaire's Nelson Field.
The Buckeye 8 championship meet will get under way at 3:30 p.m. with field events and 4:30 p.m. with running.
St. Clairsville is the defending champion on both the boys and girls sides of things. All told, the Lady Red Devils have won the last five league titles. The boys, meanwhile, are the two-time defending champions.
Former St. Clairsville standout ANTHONY SKRABAK, who went to Walsh University in Canton to play football, is enjoying a fine season on the track as a shot putter and discus thrower for the Cavaliers.
At last weekend's American Mideast Conference Championship, Skrabak won the shot put title with a mark of 44-ft-9. He placed second in the discus as Walsh claimed the conference title in its final season as a member of the league.
Beallsville High product CRAIG NEISWANGER finished second in the WVIAC decathlon at Glenville State this past weekend. The remainder of the WVIAC meet will be held at Wheeling Jesuit this weekend.
Staskey can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @TLSportsSeth