When the Baltimore County cross country championships begin today at Oregon Ridge, Milford Mill's Mike Mamo, the defending county champion, won't be healthy enough to defend his crown.
Mamo, who has been hampered by shin splints and stress fractures in his legs, said participating in the county meet is "out of the question."
Mamo, 17, also said his doctor is going day-to-day before deciding whether the first-team All-Metro runner can defend his regional championship next week.
"Sometimes, you can rest two days and it feels like it's OK, but it really isn't," said Mamo, from the office of his doctor, Marty McGinty, who is also the trainer for the Baltimore Spirit of the National Professional Soccer League.
McGinty has suggested four to eight weeks as the ideal recovery period.
"I tried cycling earlier on, and even that hurt," said Mamo, who finished second in last year's Class 1A state meet. "As far as running, I know that would be really painful. There's no way ...J...JTC could take the pounding."
Mamo, 5 feet 10, 126 pounds, said he first felt pain in the shin area in June. And in a July triathlon, the pain increased. It grew during and after long periods of running. "It took a lot of encouragement to get him to see the doctor," said Stan Lambros, Milford Mill's first-year coach.
Mamo competed in the Sept. 19 Lake Forest Invitational in Delaware and the Sept. 26 University of Maryland Invitational, winning both.
Competing in the small-school division of the Maryland meet, Mamo recorded a time of 15:59, tying the course record.
But after the race, Mamo said, he was in excruciating pain. "When I was running down the hills, it felt like someone was kicking me as hard as they could in the shin area -- over and over again," he said.
"I went to the doctors to get X-rayed two days later, and they said this was the worst case of shin splints they'd seen in two years."
Mamo, a B-average student, said he has more than 50 college possibilities riding on his senior season, including his preferred picks, Adams State College in Alamosa, Colo., and the University of Arizona.
"I think that he should rest, because running isn't worth risking all of the other possibilities that are out there for him," Lambros said.