After overcoming a heart diagnosis, Ankeny’s Tim Sindt is ready for the state track


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ANKENY, Ia. – On a sunny Tuesday afternoon, Tim Sindt did a quick run around the track here at Ankeny High School. It was two easy laps, a quick warm-up. The 2018 state track and field competition is coming up this weekend, of course, so he wants his body to stay fresh.

“I’m really excited,” said Sindt, a Hawks long distance runner. “At the start of the week you just say to yourself ‘Oh man, this is state week’ and every day you get a little more excited for it.”

Sindt will compete in both Class 4A distance races – the 3,200-meter race on Thursday and the 1,600-meter race on Saturday. He’s a serious contender in both cases, one of the best long-distance runners in the state. He won the 4A cross country state title last fall.

Then, a few months later, a heart problem abruptly interrupted Sindt’s world.

“It was pretty scary”

At the end of January, doctors diagnosed Sindt with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, where an additional electrical pathway caused an irregular and rapid heartbeat. The additional route is rare but often present at birth. Cardiac arrest is rare, but also possible.

Fear immediately enveloped the Ankeny junior.

“It was pretty scary,” Sindt said. “We went to the doctor because I wasn’t feeling well. They said I felt like I had something, but thought I probably didn’t. I am young, you know? I probably won’t have a heart problem.

“Then they called a few days later and confirmed it was real. I got really worried because I didn’t know how this was going to impact running and school.


Sindt first noticed that something was wrong while he was sitting in class. Out of nowhere, his heart “just felt weird,” he said. He started to get carried away and he had a headache and his vision was sometimes blurry. Stress, he thought.

After the trip to the doctor, Sindt spoke with his parents and discussed the next course of action. They agreed on surgery to permanently solve the problem. They talked about the possibility of waiting and even made sure that every precaution was taken to protect Sindt.

“I spoke to his parents and they said, ‘Just make sure you always know where an AED is,’ and that terrified me,” said Jon Lindaman, distance and cross-country trainer. country of Ankeny. “As a coach, just knowing he can probably run, but just in case, know where it is.

“But when they brought him in, I think it was a big relief for the coaches, of course, but him too, just to get it over with.”

Work his way home

In February, Sindt traveled to Iowa City, where doctors performed a cardiac ablation – they passed a catheter through the veins in his hip and into his heart to take care of the additional electrical pathway. Sindt was relieved afterwards.

Then came the hard part – going back.

The first 10 days after surgery, Sindt said he couldn’t do any physical activity. He couldn’t even pick up his backpack. On the eleventh day he went on the track and ran a mile and a half. His whole body ached.

“Everything went well,” Sindt said. “At first I was like, how long will I be away? What will the recovery be? I wanted to come back and start the competition.

“It probably took me a month in total to get back to the workouts I should have done earlier this year.”

The slow return was apparent in his day. A year ago, Sindt took eighth place in the United States in the 3,200 in nine minutes and 34.28 seconds. His best time so far this year is eight seconds slower. Sindt competed in the Drake Relays last month, but was 14th in the 3200 and eighth in the 1600.

Frustration smoldered beneath the surface, but it quickly turned into motivation.

“I think he was frustrated, but I don’t think he ever got angry,” said teammate Connor Farrell. “He was just like, ‘OK, I have to face this,’ and he took the steps to overcome it.”

“I keep improving myself”

Since then, Sindt has said he feels like he’s getting back into shape. He has spent most of the season on the track getting back into shape in competition. He qualified for this week’s state competition after winning the 1,600 and 3,200 at the district competition last week.

This week, many of the same top contenders in both races bear the same names Sindt beat in the state cross country meet in October. Among them are Camden Cox from Ankeny Centennial, Matthew Carmody from Dowling Catholic and Konnor Sommer from Pleasant Valley.

It will take a full race for Sindt to climb back to the top. But after getting over a frightening diagnosis and making his way home, he feels like nothing can stop him now.

“I’m going where I want to be,” he said. “I’m a little under-trained, I think, but it’s good because I feel like I’m starting on peak now. It’s nice to know that I was able to win the district competition while being very conservative because that means I have a lot more to give this week.

“I can run a lot faster than what I have shown. I keep improving myself.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.


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