SCOTCH PLAINS/FANWOOD, NJ -- It's hard enough to keep achieving personal records in cross-country, but even more so when one does it three times just weeks after heart surgery. For his performances this season and for having "heart," sophomore runner Terence Downey is this week's Joint Motion Physical Therapy Athlete of the Week.

Although he had a strong first season, Downey was often hampered by a physical ailment: his heart could often reach 260 beats per minute during physical activity. When he had surgery to remove an extra nerve in his heart on Aug. 22, no one believed he would be running cross-country varsity times so soon. The sophomore has inspired teammates and coaches alike.

With Downey’s heart issues resolved, he has broken his personal record in the 5K three times in his second season of cross-country. Compared to his best time of 20:03 last season, Downey has posted times of 19:13, then 18:54, and, most recently, 18:18 at Oak Ridge Park on Thursday, Oct. 17. 

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“Just the way I’m dropping times over and over again is surprising,” Downey said. "I’m finding new ways to push myself."

Without the cardiac issues, Downey has been performing better than ever, but that hasn’t always been the case. There were days last season when he was unsure if running was something he wanted to continue, especially with his frequent heart episodes. Sticking with the sport, has made the results that much sweeter for Downey. 

“It has opened up a lot more commitment for me… being able to perform better than I did before has made it more desirable,” Downey said. “Before when I would get heart episodes it wasn’t fun to the point where sometimes I didn’t want to do this anymore. Now it's a lot more fun and competitive and I can go in and get what I want.”

Scotch Plains-Fanwood Cross Country Coach Jeff Koegel, credits Downey’s work ethic and desire to be the main source of his success.

“I’ve had kids over the last 23 years that I’ve been coaching that have been insanely talented but didn’t have anywhere near the work ethic that Terence has,” Koegel said. “And you know, you try to hold him up as an example.”

Joint Motion Physical Therapy is located across the street from the Stage House Tavern and shares a free, handicap accessible parking lot with the Scotch Plains Public Library. Joint Motion can be reached for an appointment by phone 908-322-3202, or email You can also learn more at

Joint Motion Physical Therapy
373 Park Ave.
Scotch Plains, NJ 07076
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