For Michelle Pratt, a near-death ATV accident and subsequent road to recovery fit right in line with life’s obstacles.
The recent Blackfoot High School graduate has overcome an undiagnosed and debilitating ailment. She still manages its lingering side effects.
She’s dealt with numerous injuries that coincide with legs pounding earth in track and cross country.
Through all that, Pratt reached Idaho’s running peaks — a cross country state title last fall and a pair of track and field championships with a state meet record in May. She left Blackfoot with six state titles between the two sports, solidifying herself as a top-tier runner in southeast Idaho.
Pratt was a couple months away from starting the next step of her athletic career at Weber State University when she fell 300 feet. The ATV she was riding lost its brakes while Pratt and her cousin were riding down a road with a series of switchbacks. The two girls ended up at the bottom of a ravine in Utah’s Chalk Creek Canyon. They were alive, but Pratt’s injuries were life-threatening.
Pratt suffered a concussion, fractured vertebra, broken hand and torn carotid artery. The damaged artery caused a major stroke, which temporarily paralyzed the left side of Pratt’s body. She’s been recovering ever since, relearning to walk, regaining a somewhat normal life.
On July 21, Alisa Pratt, Michelle’s mother, told the Idaho Statesman that Michelle’s progress had been unexpectedly rapid and that she expected Michelle to leave Salt Lake’s University of Utah Hospital on Aug. 1.
“The doctors thought it was going to take a long time for me to come back,” Michelle told the Journal by phone from the hospital. “But they said I’m progressing a lot faster than they thought.”
Pratt is unsure how her accident will affect her running future. She said she may wait until next year to start running competitively again.
You read that correctly: running competitively again.
“She will, trust me,” Alisa Pratt told the Journal on July 8. “She’s about as determined as you can get.”
Michelle’s first varsity 800-meter race took her 2 minutes, 49.38 seconds to complete. She was a freshman at Blackfoot, still finding her groove as a track athlete.
“I tried long jump and that didn’t really work so well,” Michelle said. “So I stuck with distance running.”
Michelle’s final varsity 800-meter race took her 2 minutes, 11.47 seconds. She was a senior at Blackfoot, cementing her legacy.
No one has run a faster 800 at the Idaho state championship meet.
“I was really surprised when I broke the overall state record,” Michelle said. “I had no idea. It didn’t feel like I did.”
Michelle beat the field by nearly three seconds and broke the previous state meet record set by Boise High alumna Emily Hamlin in 2014 by 1.76 seconds. Michelle also won the 1,600-meters, narrowly missing a 4A state record that has stood since 2008.
From unknown freshman to top-tier senior, Michelle’s progress was swift and stunning. She didn’t qualify for the state track meet her freshman year and stood atop the podium as a sophomore. From there, she owned 4A distance races. A new champion can finally be crowned, but only because she’s leaving.