By Donald Heath
Special for the Effingham Herald
Darius Scott spent part of Sunday volunteering at the Ithaca Cancer Resource Center. The Rincon native also volunteers at a home for seniors in the area.
He says he wakes up every day thinking he’s going to make someone’s life a little better.
His life could be a little better if only the pain in his knees would go away.
Scott, who won a Class AAAAA state championship in the triple jump as a senior at South Effingham High School, spent his first year at Cornell University continuing a meteoric rise in the event for the Big Red men’s track and field team.
But during the collegiate outdoor season of 2019, Scott suffered a partially torn ligament in his left knee. He had surgery a few months later.
But the pain continues. He’s missed two years of competition and now his senior year approaches without respite.
“I think I’ve fallen behind. With consistent knee pain, I don’t know what the future is,” Scott said. “It’s at a point where I think, “Do I want to keep pushing?” ”
His past says he won’t give up. At the start of his senior season at SEHS, Scott saw little improvement in his triple jumps after placing fourth in the state meet as a junior.
But he kept pushing and improvement came in waves. He bettered his distance by more than 20 inches during the year to leap to a state title with a jump of 48 feet, 10.5 inches.
Later in the summer, Scott won gold at the Junior Olympics with a triple jump of 50 feet, 6.25 inches.
A few months later, as a freshman at Cornell, Scott finished sixth in the Ivy League Indoor Track and Field Championships. During the outdoor season, he set a personal record with a jump of 15.51 meters (50 feet, 10.5 inches) at the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational in Claremont, CA.
But knee problems weren’t far behind. Fifteen months after surgery, Scott was optimistic.
But another ailment -- an infection in his neck -- led to another setback. Scott said he spent eight weeks taking antibiotics.
He slowly returned to training in April, but the pain never left.
“It’s been a long back and forth. There’s still time to get ready for the indoor season,” Scott said. “But before I compete, I want to be able to walk without pain.”
With or without athletics, Scott has a lot to look forward to. He’s on schedule to graduate with a degree in biology with a concentration in neurobiology and behavior.
And next year, his younger brother Isaiah will enroll at Cornell.
And, Scott has the option of attending graduate school with two years of eligibility left after the 2021-22 track and field season.
For now, one year at a time. He plans on jumping at the right opportunity.
“It’s hard to detach myself from coming back,” Scott said. “But at the end of the day, I have to do what’s right. I know athletics won’t last forever.”