Running Back on Track

AHS Runner Kyle Mericer competes in a Spring Track meet. (Photo/Matthew Bray)

AHS Runner Kyle Mericer competes in a Spring Track meet. (Photo/Matthew Bray)

By: Matthew Bray

Snow days can be a fun and relaxing way for students to “skip” school without needing an excuse, especially for seniors who don’t have to make up the days. However, this wasn’t the case for AHS senior Kyle Mercier.

On Feb. 5, after spending the night at a friend’s house, Mercier drove home and as he helped his father shovel the driveway, he fell unconscious, an event he later discovered was caused by a seizure. He regained consciousness at Sturdy Memorial Hospital, where he tested negative for concussion-like symptoms.

Returning home at 4 p.m., he was resting on the couch when he lost consciousness again and experienced another seizure that caused him to be taken to another hospital in R.I. It was in that emergency room that Mercier had his third and, to date, final seizure.

Thanks to the seizure happening in the emergency room, doctors were able to classify these seizures as “Grand Mal Seizures” and diagnosed Mercier with epilepsy. He woke up at 6 a.m. after being unconscious for 14 continuous hours.

“I just felt a sore-like pain in my chest and my back when I woke up,” said Mercier.

Since the seizures, Mercier has been put on Epilepsy medication to prevent further seizures. “I would much rather take the medicine than have that ever happen again. [The seizure] was awful,” he said.

Due to his seizures, Mercier, along with the rest of the 4×800-meter relay team, lost the opportunity to compete at the indoor track and field Division I Championship Meet at the Reggie Lewis Center in Boston on Feb. 13.

“It was tough not being able to compete at divisionals,” said Mercier, but added, “My coaches and my team knew I needed to rest and I knew that was a good idea.”

Because of these health issues, Mercier had trouble doing necessary workouts to improve speed and now focuses on exercises to improve muscle endurance, which are generally used by athletes competing in distances of at least one mile (1,600 meters).

Struggling to catch up to his earlier performance, Mercier had trouble in the first few meets of the season when competing in the 800-meter race, an event in track and field he once dominated at the statewide level with a personal best of  2:08 his sophomore year and a 2:00 his junior year. He dropped back to 2:11 this year in the race.

Mercier, however, recently broke his personal best time of four minutes and 37 seconds in the one mile race in a meet against North Attleboro and with that time, he qualified for the Outdoor Track and Field Division I Championship Meet. He continues breaking personal best times with his most recent 4:35 mile run in the Sunset Invitational at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational Technical High School in early May.

Mercier is planning on going to Bristol Community College for an associate’s degree in Criminal Justice to pursue a career as a police officer. He then plans to transfer to Bridgewater State University for his bachelor’s degree.