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Jumping back to full strength

Mary freshman Friestad hopes to shake off injury

March 27, 2009
Matt Mullally

Vanessa Friestad often had to compete through injuries when she was a standout long and triple jumper for Rugby High School.

She has since moved on to compete for the University of Mary (Bismarck) track team, but injuries, unfortunately, continue to hound her.

A stress fracture in her left leg, her jumping leg, discovered in December, cut her indoor season short, but the freshman is hopeful she can compete regularly in the outdoor season.

"(Injuries) are something I've had to deal with before,'' Friestad said.

"It's frustrating, but I have to just work through it."

Vanessa had a good start to her first track season, getting a provisional qualifying mark for indoor nationals in the long jump before the injury, said Mary head track coach Mike Thorson.

Unfortunately, the stress fracture sidelined her and set her progress back.

Friestad was known for her dedication on the track, and that contributed to her placing at the Class B state meet in the long and triple jumps five consecutive years. That dedication will help her as she works through her injury.

The track season began just a few weeks after the fall semester began. Friestad said the teams had a few indoor meets late last year, and a few more in January and February.

Meets are on weekends with practices earlier in the week. "Tuesdays and Thursdays are spent jumping, working on my technique,'' she said. "At this level your technique is so important."

Time is also spent in strength and conditioning drills.

Vanessa did return to action, jumping in a couple of indoor meets earlier this year. She also competed in the Marauder's first outdoor meet of the season in Sacramento, Calif., on March 21. However, conditions were rainy and windy, and admittedly, she didn't have a good day competing. She did manage to place fourth in the triple jump with a 37-0.25 effort.

"She's had to compete in pain, but she's a tough girl, a very hard worker, much liker her holder sister, Olivia, who competed here,'' Thorson said. "She'll bounce back."

Mary recently transitioned from an NAIA school to an NCAA Division II one, meaning the level of competition is higher. The Marauders' travel schedule will include meets in four different states - South Dakota, Minnesota, Iowa and Montana. The competition level at those meets will be stiff.

Friestad earned an academic and athletic scholarship. She plans to come away with a nursing degree and along the way compete in track.

Balancing a track schedule and studies is a challenge, she admits, since there is a good amount of class time missed when the team travels to meets.

"In high school you had more homework and less studying to do,'' she said. "In college, it's the other way around."

Vanessa has enjoyed the dorm life, making new friends and attending a small school. "It's just big enough,'' said Vanessa, the daughter of Stacey and David Friestad.

Although the start of her track career has been a bit bumpy, she knows better days are ahead.

"My goal is to keep improving and get better a little each day,'' she said.



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