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Ohio gay college runner makes comeback from absence caused by Crohn’s

LGBTQ College Roundup: Mount Union’s Jason Hadley makes return to racing.

Mount Union’s Jason Hadley competes during an indoor track and field meet in February 2018.
Joe Colon

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Mount Union senior Jason Hadley took the lead early in the race, but in Laps 3 and 4, he felt his energy disappear.

Freshman teammate Jack Fortner came up on Hadley the final lap of the five-lap 1,000-meter race, and the freshman said to the senior, “Come on Jason, let’s go.”

In Hadley’s first race in eight months, Fortner’s encouragement pushed Hadley to a third-place finish in 2 minutes, 53.25 seconds.

“I was still a little off. I’m not back 100 percent yet,” said Hadley, who is gay. “It wasn’t horrible, but it felt good to be back running again.”

Jason Hadley, far left, stands with his Mount Union cross country teammates before the All-Ohio meet on Sept. 29, 2018. Hadley ran the start of that race as a planned workout, but he had not built the endurance to finish the race.
Submitted photo

Hadley had not raced since April 7, and Mount Union’s indoor track season opener Dec. 1 coincided with the start of Crohn’s and Colitis Awareness Week, which spanned Dec. 1-7.

Crohn’s disease is what sidelined Hadley for eight months.

He’d been diagnosed with the disease as a high school junior. He ran with no major problems the first 2 ½ years of his college career. Then last spring, he felt his ability to run deteriorate.

“I started feeling sick towards indoor track, and I was still running and doing workouts, but I wasn’t racing or competing that well,” Hadley said. “My symptoms kept getting worse and worse, and I kept running slower and slower. It was a gradual decline in my fitness.”

Mount Union’s Jason Hadley runs a cross country race in 2016.
Joe Colon

The main symptoms were fatigue, diarrhea and abdominal pain. But then in May, for several days in a row, he experienced massive amounts of blood in his bowel movements, which led to dizziness. He’d spend five days in the hospital and received five units of blood. He needed surgery in June to remove part of his intestine.

“I was severely anemic over the summer, and I lost a lot of blood so that’s why I had to have the bowel resection,” Hadley said.

Laying in the hospital for five days in May, Hadley thought his college running career might be done.

His recovery to regain his endurance forced him to miss cross country season, but he’s back hoping to enjoy his final indoor and outdoor track and field season.

Jason Hadley, third from left, stands with his clinical group at Mount Union. Hadley will receive his bachelor’s degree in nursing in May 2019.
Submitted photo

The 6-foot-1, 170-pound Hadley is running 35 to 40 miles a week, but that remains far below the 60-mile weeks he ran regularly last season.

Hadley has been out as gay since his freshman year at Mount Union, and he’s now proud of his sexuality. He said he finds it harder to talk about having Crohn’s than talking about being a gay man.

“People just don’t want to share that they’re sick because then you don’t want people to view you as being sick all the time,” Hadley said, but he is learning, “it’s important for people to share their stories and experiences living with Crohn’s Disease.”

Jason Hadley can be reached on Instagram at @Jason_703. He’ll be graduating in May from University of Mount Union with a Bachelor of Science in nursing.

Names in bold are people that have announced publicly they identify as LGBTQ. Results are for competitions that took place Nov. 26-Dec. 9.

Division I

Philip Batler (junior, Brown men’s track & field) took second in the 200 meters (22.93 seconds) at the Alden Invitational on Dec. 1.

Abrahm DeVine (senior, Stanford men’s swimming) and Kennedy Lohman (junior, Texas women’s swimming) competed at the Texas Invite on Nov. 28 to Dec. 1. DeVine competed in six events led by winning the 200-yard individual medley (1 minute, 42.71 seconds). Lohman competed in five events with her best result a win in the 100 breaststroke (59.86 seconds).

Taylor Emery (senior, Virginia Tech women’s basketball) scored 22 points in a 67-51 win against Rutgers during the ACC/Big Ten Challenge on Nov. 28, and Emery had a game-high 21 points against rival Radford during a 55-44 win on Dec. 4. Virginia Tech stayed perfect this season at 9-0.

Connor Griffin (senior, Fordham men’s swimming) finished fifth in the 100-yard breaststroke (1:05.14) during a meet against Manhattan on Dec. 5.

Matt Kravitz (junior, Lehigh men’s track & field) won the 800 meters (1:56.75) at the Lehigh Season Opener on Dec. 1. He followed that by winning the 1,000 meters (2:30.37) at the Fast Time Before Finals meet on Saturday.

Will Lynch (senior, Vermont men’s track & field) finished third in the high jump (5 foot, 10.75 inches) at Saturday’s season-opening four-team meet. Lynch was named a captain for the team in November.

Charlie Minns (junior, Princeton men’s diving) won the 3-meter springboard (395.9 points) and took second on 1-meter (304.05) at the Brown Invite on Nov. 30-Dec. 2. In a dual meet at Columbia on Saturday, he took second on 3-meter springboard (389.18) and third on 1-meter (340.81).

Princeton diver Charlie Minns takes off on the springboard during a meet on Nov. 10, 2018.
Beverly Schaefer

Antonio Woodard (redshirt junior, Iowa men’s track & field) won the 60 meters (6.88 seconds) and the 300 meters (32.89 seconds) at Saturday’s Grant Invitational in Iowa City, Iowa. He set a facility record in the 300 meters. Woodard also sang the national anthem before the Iowa-Wisconsin men’s basketball game on Nov. 29.

Stephanie White (head coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) and Kelly Komara (assistant coach, Vanderbilt women’s basketball) led the Commodores (4-5 overall) to a 1-1 record the last two weeks with a 72-61 loss at Kansas State and a 60-43 win at Ball State.

Division III

Kyle Davis (senior, Ithaca men’s track & field) finished 13th in long jump (20 feet, 4 inches) and 25th in the 60-meter dash (7.48 seconds) at the Page Relays on Dec. 1 to open the indoor track season.

Alec Donovan (redshirt junior, Centenary wrestling) took third place by going 5-1 in the 165-pound bracket at the Cyclone Open on Dec. 2.

Matthew Garza (junior, Johns Hopkins men’s swimming) competed in four events at the Brown Invite on Nov. 30-Dec. 2, and his best individual result was 20th in the 200-yard butterfly (1:54.85).

Lex Horwitz (senior, Bowdoin men’s squash) lost his match against Trinity’s Graham Gozigian 11-5, 11-5, 11-3 on Dec. 1. In Bowdoin’s 5-4 win against Tufts on Saturday, Horwitz lost his match 11-4, 11-2, 11-3.

NJCAA

Lexie Gerson (head coach, Harcum women’s basketball) led the Bears (7-3 overall) to go 2-3 during its five consecutive road games over the past two weeks.

Layne Ingram (head coach, Lansing women’s basketball) guided the Stars (2-5 overall) to a 1-2 record the last two weeks, which includes Friday’s 66-64 overtime loss to Calvin College.

Erik Hall can be reached via email at hallerik7@gmail.com or on Twitter @HallErik or Facebook. If you are an out LGBTQ athlete or coach and want your accomplishments recognized, please email Erik.