ORADELL — Jessica Failace doesn’t remember much about her horrific right leg injury of October 2012. Well, not about the actual injury itself.
“We were playing in a county soccer game against River Dell and there was a minute, 44 seconds to go and we were down, 1-0,” said Failace.
“I leaned into a girl to try to reach a ball in the air and then I was on the ground and I thought I had broken my right leg.”
As it turned out, a broken femur may have been preferable to the actual injury, a torn medial meniscus and a complete ACL tear, that led to a pair of surgeries leaving a large four-inch scar on her right knee and 66 days on crutches for the Lyndhurst senior.
It looked like her promising two-sport career might be over, or at least drastically changed.
Friday, Failace returned to River Dell for the first day of the Jack Yockers Bergen County Relays and added another page to her remarkable comeback.
She set a school record of 1:06.2 in the 400 hurdles, and led her team to a pair of medals and fourth place in the C division behind leader Ramsey.
“Until my surgery I was thinking all positive thoughts but then I got a little depressed,” said Failace, who came back to score 23 goals for the Golden Bears’ soccer team this fall.
“But then I started telling myself I was going to come back and run again and then I worked as hard as I could to make it happen.”
Junior year was tough, as Failace struggled to return to the form she had shown as a freshman.
But after her fine senior soccer season, her first meet of the spring signaled that she was all the way back as she came within a tenth of a second from the 400 hurdles school record of 1:07.1.
“It’s not fun being here and not being able to compete,” said Failace, who will run at Sacred Heart in Connecticut next year.
“But it’s even more fun to be to compete as part of a good team like we have this year.”