SACRAMENTO — Four years of dealing with intense back pain and at times numbness in her legs. Rehabilitation, therapy — even an epidural shot.
Marina native and Santa Catalina graduate Mikayla Revera ignored a doctor’s suggestion to stop.
It all came to an end this past weekend as Revera ran her final 200- and 400-meter sprints for the Sacramento State women’s track and field team. Despite being granted another year of eligibility after last year’s pandemic cut short her 2020 season, the senior is listening to her body.
“My body is telling me ‘let it go,’” said Revera, who will become a coach on the Sacramento State staff next season.
Four herniated disks discovered in her back four years ago as a freshman shut down her season, leaving her in excruciating pain, casting doubt on her collegiate career.
“A back specialist told me maybe I should hang it up,” Revera said. “That wasn’t an option for me at the time. There were ways to strengthen myself. I felt like I still could reach my potential.”
In other words, the 21-year-old had some unfinished business. The love for the sport pushed her to set new standards, overcoming the daily pain she encountered.
Leaving her stamp on the program was important. Living with the discomfort would be worth it if she could achieve some personal goals.
“The numbness in the legs was a little scary,” Revera said. “As long as I jogged it off, it would subside. Once I’m done with the constant impact, my back will be much better.”
Milestones were achieved over her four years as a Hornet, as Revera recorded the second-fastest indoor time in the 400 at 54.13 seconds in 2020, and the third fastest 200 in 24.11.
“I was 13th hundredths of a second off the school record in the 200,” said Revera, who didn’t get an indoor season this past winter because of the ongoing pandemic.
Those times also eclipsed Revera’s career bests, established back when she was a junior at Santa Catalina, reaching the state meet in both the 200 and 400.
“Mikayla came to us fast,” Santa Catalina coach Barry Panes said. “I didn’t make her fast. Her dynamics, form and technique were spot on. I just gave her the proper workouts.’’
Workouts became an issue during the pandemic this past season. While the time off enabled her to work with the school’s strength and conditioning coaches for her back, it put Revera and the rest of her teammates behind this spring on the track.
The 5-foot-10 Revera was never able to get back to her career outdoor mark of 54.42, set during the 2019 season in the 400 — which is fourth all-time on the Sacramento State’s outdoor records.
“I was in such a good place coming into the outdoor season in 2020,” Revera said. “I felt I was primed to hit 53 in the outdoors. Then COVID hit. We never had an outdoor season.”
While she continued to train, Revera had no access to the school weight room. Training with teammates was limited, or from a distance earlier in the season because of COVID protocols.
“The pandemic hurt our fall training,” Revera said. “Then there was no indoor season. Some opted out this year. I’m a competitive person. We missed a lot of good quality training on the track and in the weight room.”
Revera wrapped up her career Saturday without the big personal record she envisioned, but still finished third in the Big Sky Conference finals in the 400 (54.92) and fifth in the 200 (24.52).
“I left it all out on the track,” said Revera, who also competed in both relays at the finals. “I really wanted to get into the 53s in the 400. That’s been the goal since I arrived.”
Revera has a handful of Big Sky Conference honors on the track, winning the indoor 400 title in 2019, as well as running a leg on the winning 1,600 relay team.
She also earned Big Sky Conference honors outdoors as a sophomore in the 200 and both the 400 and 1,600 relays for Sacramento State.
“My coach modified my workouts,” Revera said. “Having someone believe in me, you don’t know how much that means, particularly in a sport that is so mentally challenging.”
Revera was speaking about women’s sprint coach Kimberly Graham-Miller, who was a member of the 1996 United States women’s gold medal-winning 1,600 relay team.
In fact, Revera has built such a strong relationship with Graham-Miller, that she is going to join the Sacramento State coaching staff next year to remain involved in the sport.
“I’m going to be an assistant coach and do an internship with the strength and conditioning staff,” said Revera, who is getting her degree in athletic care and kinesiology. “My strength and conditioning coaches have been the biggest factor in keeping me out there.”
A four-time Mission Trail Athletic League champion in the 200 and 400 meters, Revera is the county’s second-fastest sprinter in the 100 (12.09), 200 (24.44) and 400 (54.86), behind only Monterey grad Sani Roseby.
“Mikayla was our team captain as a senior,” Panes said. “She built the team morale, provided them confidence. She knows how to treat athletes, lift them to another level. She’ll be a great coach.”
A two-time CIF state meet qualifier in the 400, who finished ninth as a junior at Santa Catalina, Revera won the Central Coast Section 400 title as a senior. She helped Santa Catalina to four straight MTAL team titles.
Now it’s time to give back to the sport that helped pay for her college education, and in Revera’s mind, put her on a path to the next chapter in her life.
“I want to condition athletes and help them achieve goals,” Revera said. “I love putting in the work and seeing the rewards from it. It’s what I loved about being an athlete.”
Contributed by local news sources