Lukas Verzbicas on the comeback trail


Four months ago, one of the best high school milers of all time, Lukas Verzbicas, nearly died during a cycling crash that left the 19-year-old bedridden. But Verzbicas is back and thankful to be alive.

On Thursday, he took third in the Orland Park Turkey Trot in Orland Park, Ill.

RELATED: Verzbicas talks about crash

“The fact that I’m able to even be here means so much more to me,” Verzbicas said. “I’ve never appreciated something like life. I always thought about the small things -- the racing and the training and all of that. That was all that mattered to me. Now I see the wide spectrum and the big picture.”

Verzbicas, who was born in Kaunas, Lithuania, and graduated from Carl Sandburg High School in Orland Park, is a two-time Gatorade National Runner of the Year. Last year he left the University of Oregon to concentrate on training for triathlon.

VIDEO: Verzbicas' road to recovery

His bike crash took place in Colorado Springs when he was heading downhill and slammed into a guardrail. The result: two broken vertebrae, a broken thorax, and a broken clavicle. On Thursday, he finished third overall out of 750 entrants and second in the 15-19 age group with a time of 13 minutes, 32.6 seconds. It was his first competition since the accident.