Land O’Lakes cross country runner Steven Barnabei is home recovering after undergoing emergency surgery late last week to remove a brain tumor, Gators coach Kris Keppel said Tuesday afternoon.
“We didn’t know how serious it was until Friday,” Keppel said.
Barnabei went to a neurologist for tests that day, and doctors decided to perform surgery immediately to remove the tumor from the left side of his brain. Test results to determine whether the tumor was malignant have not yet arrived, and it’s unclear what long-term recovery Barnabei faces.
“He’s had a speedy recovery so far, but there’s a long road ahead,” Keppel said. “There’s a lot of unanswered questions that we don’t know.”
Barnabei, a junior, was a team captain and one of the Gators’ top runners this fall. He finished 14th at the Sunshine Athletic Conference meet last month – less than two weeks before his operation. He set a personal record (17:10) during a ninth-place finish at the Run with the Bulls Invitational on Oct. 13.
Land O’Lakes is still determining how to honor Barnabei for the rest of the season. The day after his surgery, the Gators placed third as a team in the Class 3A, District 6 meet.
“The whole team has been supportive,” Keppel said.