Share this article

print logo

Alden’s Hailey Rospierski overcomes diabetes en route to state track titles

Hailey Rospierski already has shown she’s pretty good at clearing hurdles. She has the state championship in the event to prove it.

Yet, the Alden senior cleared perhaps the biggest potential one of her life just after the November Storm of 2014. Around that time, the normally energetic two-sport athlete started feeling weak and worn down. Over the course of two weeks, until the storm hit, she lost 15 pounds off her already lean 5-foot-7, 130-pound frame, even though she ate regularly.

“I thought I was just getting the flu or sick,” she said. “I was getting weak to the point where I could barely lift anything to eat.”

Exhaustion? Some other illness?

Rospierski’s parents knew better. They recognized the diabetic symptoms because their older daughter’s best friend showed similar ones when she contracted the condition. As soon as the travel ban was lifted, they took Hailey to see her doctor, who sent the family to Women & Children’s Hospital for Type 1 diabetes treatment.

Type 1 diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association, is a medical condition in which the body fails to produce insulin. The body breaks down the sugars and starches one eats into glucose. Insulin is a hormone the body needs to get glucose from the bloodstream into the cells of the body.

The Rospierskis had no history of diabetes in the family until Hailey arrived for medical treatment with blood levels over 900. Normal levels are between 70-120.

“The doctors were surprised she could walk into the hospital,” said Jeff Rospierski, Hailey’s father. “Her body was in ketoacidocious. Her body, because it wasn’t absorbing glucose for energy, started eating away at muscles for survival.”

Once Rospierski learned of the diagnosis and after two days in the hospital, she felt normal and resumed working out with Lancaster Gymnastics Sports Academy.

Soon after that, she not only regained the weight she lost but added muscle due to the additional protein in her diet.

Her body transformed from the tall, thin sophomore who leaped 5-foot-7 to win the state high jump into a powerful but graceful 150-pound hurdler. She added Section VI and state outdoor titles in the 100 high hurdles to her trophy case last June.

“I don’t think it’s that difficult,” Rospierski said of living with the ailment. “It’s kind of an inconvenience if you’re hungry and just want a snack you have to have insulin with it. It only takes a minute or two (to measure) but . . .”

It would be easier just grabbing a nibble without thinking about the consequences.

That’s not how it works with Type 1 diabetes. Every time she eats, she has to check her blood and dose insulin based on carb intake.

Rospierski has always acted disciplined and mature, according to those who know her best. That’s a reason she has achieved athletic success. The two-time track champion, she has won state and regional gymnastics titles in the vault and the uneven bars. The 18-year-old placed fifth in her age group at nationals in the vault last month.

Rospierski said the gymnastics training has helped her become successful in track, which is her favorite of the two sports.

Alden does not offer indoor track, unlike some larger schools. Her track season lasts all of four months and overlaps the end of gymnastics.

Taking that into consideration, what’s more amazing? The fact she’s a two-time state champion or that she’s earned a full-ride scholarship to continue her track career at Central Connecticut State?

“She’s a very responsible kid,” Jeff Rospierski said. “She’s really on top of everything. She’s very regimented. … She’s very talented but she works really hard.”

“I think the stength and the ability to do gymnastics transfers over with the ability to do hurdles and track because I have the strength to jump high,” she said.

She’s also determined.

Although she’s gotten used to being more muscular, the extra bulk has impacted her ability to reach 5-7 in the high jump. She was disappointed with her 5-3 effort during a third-place showing at states last year in the event.

She believes another big leap is in there somewhere. A sign of hope: she cleared 5-4.75 last week.

With solid technique and determination …

“I’ll probably be able to do it if I focus enough,” she said.

She has been strong enough in that event to help Alden go unbeaten in ECIC IV each of the past four seasons. Coach Ed Carll said she has been the team’s leading points producer during that stretch.

She holds school records in the 100 high hurdles (14.6 seconds) and high jump (5-7), with both marks set during victories in state-meet competition.

She’s going to try to add another school record to her collection this weekend when she participates in the pentathlon at the Lancaster Girls Track Classic. She’s posted a 2,802 in her only time running the event this season last week at Depew. The record is 2,998.

How she does also could impact which events she focuses on during the Section VI championships.

One thing is certain. She wants to go out a champion.

That’d be perfect momentum for her freshman year at Central Connecticut.