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Suzie Linn already had the thrill of qualifying and placing at the state track meet as a freshman two years ago.

But simply getting back to the meet this year was an accomplishment for the Marco Island Academy junior.

Linn, who finished sixth at state in the 100-meter hurdles two years ago, broke her ankle during last year's regional meet at Cypress Creek High School in Wesley Chapel. She returned to the scene of her traumatic injury, earning a spot in the Class 1A state meet by finishing fourth in the region - by far the toughest in the state. The top four qualifiers in each region earn an automatic berth to state, but Linn's time (15.90) would have gotten her there as a wild card regardless. She's seeded sixth out of 24 competitors heading into Friday's state meet in Jacksonville.

"Coming into the season, I wasn't expecting that much, actually," Linn said. "State was not in my mind. I just wanted to get through each meet without getting injured again."

Linn, who competed for Lely in the Class 2A regional meet last year, said she suffered the injury stumbling out of the blocks. Seeded second, she finished 10th - not bad for someone running on a broken ankle.

"The starter had us set for a good amount of time and we he said go, I rolled my ankle coming off the blocks," she said. "I didn't even know I had broken it at first, I just ran the race. It wasn't until the adrenaline wore off that I knew I was in trouble. I was in so much pain."

Back at Marco Island Academy this year, Linn has returned to form. But she admitted having doubts before the regional race.

"It was scary going back to the same track," she said. "I was definitely worried about it, but my mom (also named Susan) kept telling me that it wasn't going to happen again this year. It was all mental and I had to keep telling myself that it's a new year and that everything would be fine."

Although she had success at Lely, Linn likes the small-school setting of Marco Island Academy much better.

"At (Marco Island Academy), everyone knows who I am and they really get excited for you," she said. "At bigger schools, a lot more kids make it to state and it doesn't seem like it's as big a deal to people."

Linn said she'll enjoy the state experience much more this time around, especially given what she's gone through just to get there.

"My freshman year, I didn't really know how special it was," she said. "I kind of went through the motions and ended up there. Plus, during my freshman year, the runners weren't as fast, so I really had to push myself against tougher competition this year. I'll also know the routine this time, so I'll be much more prepared."

 

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