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Overcoming adversity, Oxford’s Kyle Rock signs with West Alabama

Shin splints, painful to anyone who experiences them. For Kyle Rock, it almost derailed a career before it even began.

The Oxford track & field and cross-country standout suffered through shin splints the first two years of his high school career, but that is a distant memory now as the senior signed with the University of West Alabama on Thursday morning inside the OHS library.

“Maybe a year, two years ago, I really didn’t know I’d be in this situation,” Rock said. “Obviously, it’s a really big step in my life and this opportunity, I didn’t really know it was going to happen. I’m really thankful for it and going to take it right away.”

Rock’s middle school career was unaffected, but once he entered his freshman season, the shin splits arrived and caused him to not perform as his absolute best. After two years of treatment and working his way through the pain, Rock felt an immediate difference in his first cross-country meet of his junior year. It still took Rock to get through his junior track season and his senior cross-country season last fall to truly feel himself.

“I knew after that first meet I went pain-free, I knew that was something special,” Rock said. “I had a feeling that special things were going to happen and they really did. … It’s one of those injuries you don’t know when you’re going to get better or if you’re going to get better. That was the most frustrating part of it. When I got better, I realized that things you can have for life, they can get taken away.”

It was then that West Alabama started on their recruitment of Rock. He took two visits and immediately decided he wanted to spend the next four years in Livingston, Alabama.

In the 5K race during cross-country season last fall, Rock ran a personal best of 16 minutes, 36 seconds. When his first became pain around his junior year, Rock was running a personal best of 19:04, shedding almost three minutes off his time from the fall of 2015 to now.

“I think I have a growing passion for (running),” Rock said. “I think I’m running better because of (the injury).”

Rock’s career at Oxford is not yet over as he is still competing with the Chargers’ track & field team, which is aiming for its third consecutive MHSAA Class 5A title next month.