"I injured myself at the end of a tempo run in mid-August," said Powers, who started running cross country his junior year and track in seventh grade. "I took an awkward step during my cooldown and felt a sudden pain in my left foot. It still hurt pretty badly the next day, so I knew something was wrong and went to the doctor.
"I played varsity football (kicker) before cross country in grades seven-10," Powers said.
Hoping to be back for the start of cross country season competition, Powers wanted to help his team defend their title at the state meet.
"At first I thought that I would heal quickly and be back by the time the season started," said Powers. "Once I found out that it was a more serious injury, I just wanted to get back in time to help the team out at the state meet."
The Warrior, who looks to looks to defend his Class AAAA 1600-meter run title and help the Warriors defend their 3200-meter relay title, resumed training in mid-November with light workouts in preparation for the track and field season.
"Individually, I hope to repeat as a state champion in the 1600 and qualify for Nike Outdoor Nationals," he said. "For Wando as a team, I hope that we can repeat our victory in the 4x800 (relay) and place among the top teams in the state overall. We only graduated one senior from the team that placed second in the state last year, and many of our younger athletes have really stepped it up. However, our competition from around the state continues to look stronger year after year, so it will be a challenging season."
Powers is the top returning 1600 runner in all classifications, according to 2008 database rankings.
The relay team covered the eight lap event in eight minutes, 11.84 seconds in 2008. Spring Valley finished second in eight minutes, 14.61 seconds. Irmo rounded out the top three in eight minutes, 17.79 seconds.
Powers sealed the 1600-meter Class AAAA victory last season in four minutes, 36 seconds. The Warrior finished third in the 3200-meter run (10:12.72).
Powers is continuing to slowly increase mileage and is now training with mainly long distance training runs along with some moderate to tempo-paced runs and a weekly long run.
Following a few doctor visits and an MRI he was informed that he had a bone injury during cross country.
"At first I was told that it was a soft tissue injury, something along the lines of a sprain, which would take a few weeks to get better," said Powers. "After about a month of on and off running, a few more doctor visits, and an MRI, I learned it was actually a bone injury that would take much longer to heal completely.
"The team had been having official practices for about two weeks. We were doing a lot of long distance running with some tempo runs and hill work mixed in."
Powers said it was a challenge not being able to run and must be for others that are injured.
"Not being able to run was really tough for me, as it must be for anyone who is injured," Powers said. "I managed to stay in shape and keep from going crazy by swimming, biking, water running, or lifting weights on most days of the week."
Powers did participate in a few meets to remain eligible for the state meet in case he did recover in time, he said.
"I even ran (slowly) at a couple of meets to keep myself eligible for the state meet," he said. "After I realized that I would not be ready to race by the state meet, I drove a few other junior varsity members up to Columbia to cheer on the varsity team.
"My injury was one of many that Wando suffered during the season, so it was a tough time for the team. Still, everyone was very supportive and hopeful that I would be back to running as soon as possible."
Powers' coach Harold Fallis told scrunners.com, "He (Powers) would keep in touch with me and also come to the beginning of practice a couple times a week and help lead the team in stretching. Early in the season he attempted to practice, but could not. He came to the meets in support and was at all the meets the could not race in."
Even though Powers was not able to run during practice, he felt he should attend practice frequently and use his experience to lead younger runners.
"I still came to practice frequently after I was injured," said Powers. "I tried to use my experience to help lead younger team members, despite not being able to compete or train with them."
Fallis, expecting Powers to be ready by the region meet, noticed how Powers was getting frustrated not being able to run without pain.
"He never stopped doing the therapy and cross training that would help him get back on his feet," said Fallis. "When he was able to jog without pain he ran only on grass and soft surfaces.
"I honestly expected him to be able to run at a satisfactory level and race with us by the time the region meet (7-AAAA) rolled around. It was not until after the (region) meet that he felt he could not race."
The Warriors finished first in the region meet on Oct. 22 with 20 points and fourth in the team competition on Nov. 8 at the state meet.
Looking forward Powers, planning to compete at the Division I level, is choosing a school on both academics and athletes. The Warrior says choosing a college in both areas is 'more difficult.' "My college search is going well," Powers said. "I have applied to a number of schools, and I could end up going to any one of them. I plan on running at the Division I level next year no matter what school I attend. My college selection process is only made more difficult by having to choose a school based on both academics and athletics."
Powers mentioned he prefers not to release the names of schools he is interested in.
The signing period for cross country and track and field starts Feb. 4 and ends Aug. 1.
"Eric is an elite student-athlete," said Fallis. "He is very intellectual and goal-driven and excels in both his athletic and classroom endeavors. He sets lofty but achievable goals and has the discipline to do the work and stay on task. He does his homework both in the classroom and with his running."
The Warriors open the season March 7 at the Sandlapper Classic at West Ashley in Charleston.
File photos by D. Keith Driggers and Kyle Nowlin for scrunners.com.
Editor's note: College signings news can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.