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The last of the Friestad jumpers

Long line of talented track sisters ends this season

May 7, 2010
Matt Mullally

Rugby senior Stephanie Friestad says it really hasn't sunk in - the fact this is the final season a Friestad is part of the Panther girls track program.

It started back in 1996 when Stephanie's oldest sister, Amanda, began competing at varsity meets, and since then, Olivia, Jessica, Vanessa and Stephanie have followed.

"Every track season you just expect you'll always have one around,' said Rugby head girls coach Bill Jansen "We're going to miss their competitiveness. They had such a positive impact on their teammates."

Stephanie has been competing in varsity meets since her junior high days, and while she may have been in the shadows of her older sisters, she possesses the same characteristics that have defined them - a good work ethic, strong fundamentals and a positive attitude.

"It's hard to find athletes who have put in as much time as Steph does,' said Rugby jumping coach Steve Mueller. "From a coaching perspective, it's a real joy to have an athlete who is so dedicated, constantly wanting to improve and has such a great attitude."

Stephanie credits her older sisters for instilling those qualities in her. "I learned so much from watching them train and compete,' she said.

While much can be achieved by simply working hard, it still comes down to talent and technique that separates the top jumpers from the rest.

"You have to get your steps down and have good form (when you jump),' Friestad said. "You really have to be focused."

Her years of competing in gymnastics has benefitted her on the track as well, providing strong legs and leaping ability.

Of her four older sisters, the one which Stephanie most compares her jumping style to is Jessica, who graduated in 2005.

"We're both small in stature,' Stephanie said. "Actually, Jess is who taught me a lot about jumping."

Something many may not know about the Friestads was there ability to compete, despite injured. "They were tough,' Mueller said. "Just how good they could have been, if they didn't have the injuries to deal with, but they still competed through the pain and discomfort.'

Bill Jansen, Rugby girls head coach, said the sisters have done more than than just participate in the jumping events, but have dominated. And their reputation often preceded themselves at meets.

All five Friestads have qualified for the state meet in the jumps, and Olivia, Jessica and Vanessa have placed at state several times.

Stephanie competed at the Class B state meet two years ago in the long and triple jump, and the goal this season is to return to the meet, and hopefully end her career on the awards stand.

"It would be great if I can end by placing at state,' she said. "It's definitely a goal I want to reach."



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