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Forum editorial: Track standout shines

Fargo South High alumna  Laura Roesler finished her storied collegiate running career in grand style this weekend when she ran away with a victory in the outdoor 800 meters, her fifth NCAA Division I national championship. The University of Oregon standout won in convincing fashion, leaving her nearest rival about 10 meters behind at the finish at prestigious Hayward Field. She followed that solo flourish with a very strong performance in the 1,600-meter relay final, advancing her team from seventh place to third, enabling it to place third – the capstone achievement for the University of Oregon’s most decorated female track athlete.

Her string of 17 NCAA All-American mentions at Oregon, a running powerhouse, followed 20 individual track championships in North Dakota Class A competition for Fargo South. She is likely North Dakota’s most accomplished female track star – and undoubtedly an inspiring example of what someone can achieve in her chosen field of endeavor through a combination of talent, fierce determination and disciplined hard work.

Her mettle was evident at a young age, when she first showed up at a starting line. “Laura was gritty and talented,” said Dave Tack, former Fargo South cross-country coach, recalling seeing her run as a sixth-grader. “You could see that she had that specialness.” A year later, she took second in the Class A girls cross-country, her third varsity event. The breadth and versatility of her talent was fully on display in the eighth grade, with an unprecedented showing at Bismarck’s Community Bowl, where she captured first on a hot, humid day in the 100, 200, 400 and 800 meters, events she ran within a span of 2½ hours. What a sports writer later would call “The Legend of Laura” had been born. “She has this almost mythical status,” Tack said.

Coach Tack’s admiring words recently were echoed by Robert Johnson, Oregon head track coach. “She’s definitely left a huge legacy,” he said of Roesler after her scorching performance in the 800. “She’s been built for this. She’s just a phenomenal person and comes from a phenomenal family.”

What comes next for an athlete who has little left to prove, to others if not to herself? She will compete at the USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships later this month in Sacramento, Calif., and later hopes to qualify for the 2016 Summer Olympics in Brazil. “That’s where I want to be in a couple of years,” she recently told Eric Peterson, Forum sports writer. “I still have a lot of big decisions to make.” And, we have no doubt, a lot of big achievements awaiting her, regardless of which lane in life’s racetrack she picks. We join her family and friends in saluting her achievements.

Forum editorials represent the opinion of Forum management and the newspaper’s Editorial Board.