By Jeremy McDonald
SALEM, Ore.– There’s something about Salem Academy junior Wilson McLean and a particular fire he’s taking into this season dating back to how his sophomore season ended in 2016.
Let’s take a look back to the State Championship last year in Eugene, the then-sophomore McLean was dominate for Salem Academy, having qualified for several events for the big dance and everything was going well entering the second day of the Meet.
“I remember feeling, coming through at prelims, I was feeling on top of my game. Feeling as fast as I can be at that moment,” said McLean. “I felt good in the 400, I felt good in the 300 Hurdles.
“And then I woke up the morning of finals, something felt off so I got to the State Meet and I ran with my 4×1 team. We did alright But I could tell something was off with me when I finished my 400, I couldn’t stop shaking. I was so sick, I finished that up, I got my eighth-place medal, I added two seconds to my 400 time and I got back to where my clothes were and I bundled up, I couldn’t stop shaking, I was throwing up every where, I wasn’t feeling good.”
McLean couldn’t shake it, and then when they made final calls for the 300 meter hurdles, his parents had to step in to keep their son from competing with how bad he was feeling, looking and acting.
“I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go and all that was going through my mind was, ‘I can’t do it, this is one of my lowest moments of my life’. I couldn’t think of anything that was anything worst and they were saying ‘final call, every one get here’ and I couldn’t do it.
“My parents were like, ‘your too sick, we have to take you home’ and the alternate has to go for the 4×4.”
Then the thing that has stuck with him from the State Meet came when he was walking out of the meet that he hasn’t forgotten since May 20.
“So we were walking out and I was throwing up still and we were walking by the podium and the guys from the 300 meter hurdles were getting their medals,” McLean said. “So at that moment, I knew I was coming back with a vengeance. I’m coming back stronger, I’m coming back faster, I’m coming back bringing all that I can to the field and I’m going to put all of my cards on the table next year and I’m going to come out here and bring all that I can.”
As nice it would be to say it was smooth sailing since there would be easier said than done unfortunately for McLean.
Coming back into football for his junior year, he missed most of the season due to collarbone injuries, but he came back just in the neck of time for the Crusaders State Title Runner-Up run where the junior played a part in the run as he carried that momentum into a even stronger swimming season.
But during that time he was out, the junior was preparing for his chance, his opportunity for when it came when he was 100-percent.
“It’s nice,” said McLean on the comeback during football season. “I felt like I was hitting my low point, I mean breaking your collarbone one time is one thing, you can kind of bounce back from that,” “But breaking it again, it was like, ‘shoot man, how much more bad luck I got to have? And then coming back, one more game before playoffs, my doctors were like, ‘you’re good to go play’ and I said, ‘Alright let’s go!’
“I mean I’ve been preparing still with a broken collarbone saying, ‘If I get my chance, I’m going to take it’ and coming back in the semi-finals game and the first-round and the finals, I felt some much better to get back out there and compete and know that I was at 100-percent.”
And now we’re back to Track season, and McLean is helping his teammates for the Colton meet with the Hurdles. Teaching them the ways of the event like a Jedi almost in making sure they’re just as ready as he is and still working to be.
“Ever since last track season ended, everything I’ve done leading up to this year, it’s all been in preparation,” said McLean. “Football has been preparation for track, swimming has been preparation for track and now it’s time and now I’m putting in as much work as I can. Staying late after practice, putting in the extra work. Coming in on the weekends, saying that there’s nothing that’s going to stop me, that the only person that is going to hold me back is me.
“And it’s great having all my teammates around me with this same mentality, like the guys on the 4×4, my 4×1 and I just feel so much more confident like never before.”
The 4×100 and 4×400 teams have been something short of spectacular. Having strong performances as a 4×400 team at the John Oliver Invite this past Saturday, or the 4×100 team holding off Bishop Mitchell and Kennedy at Mt. Angel on April 13 have let the two teams make strong statements this season.
His 300 times are just as good, PR-ing at the John Oliver Invitional with a 40.85 en route to his third win of the season in the 300 meter hurdles.
“I thought last year couldn’t get any better, then this year came around and it’s been a season to remember, it’s been like everything that I could dream for,” said McLean. “I mean all my teammates are right there for me and I’m always there for them and it’s been so great to be at a school where everyone is so close together so tight-nip, it’s been a dream come true all season and I couldn’t ask for a better team or a better year so far.”
As this junior continues his trajectory moving forward with the ‘Headband Gang’ and Running Like Forrest over those hurdles, Wilson McLean has been living up to his personal expectations he set forth after how last season has ended.
And with the meet with Colton Thursday and the Meet of Champions Saturday at Willamette, McLean can only get better moving forward.