FARGO – Last year was a mix of frustration and disappointment for Laura Roesler, having to deal with the first major injury in her highly decorated track career. The former Oregon Ducks standout competed in only a few events after partially tearing her right Achilles tendon.
"It was a hard pill to swallow," said the Fargo South High School graduate, now a professional runner who trains near San Antonio. "It was a big learning curve for me. ... I will probably come out on the better side of it now."
The timing is good for Roesler, who has aspirations of making the U.S. Team for the 2016 Summer Olympics, which are being hosted in Rio de Janeiro next August. Roesler has competed in the 800 meters at indoor events the past three weekends, working toward the U.S. Olympic Team Trials for track and field. The Trials are set for July 1-10 in Eugene, Ore., at historic Hayward Field, which was Roesler's home track at Oregon.
"I'm always just trying to get better each time I go out and race," said Roesler, who won the 2014 NCAA Division I outdoor national title in the women's 800 at Hayward. "That will get me ready for July."
Rose Monday, Roesler's coach, said that this past year-while emotional-was a "blessing in disguise" for the 24-year-old Roesler in some respects.
"She has run at such a high level since eighth grade," Monday said. "It was a time to regroup and regather."
Roesler won 20 individual state track titles for Fargo South, claiming her first state championship as an eighth-grader. Roesler was a 17-time All-American at Oregon before turning pro, including indoor and outdoor national titles in the 800.
Roesler also finished second in the women's 800 at the USATF Outdoor Championships in 2014 with a time of 1 minute, 59.04 seconds, her career-best in the event.
Even though Roesler competed only a few times in 2015, Monday doesn't feel like Roesler has "missed a beat" since returning to training and competition. Roesler cross-trained all last year.
"We came back very, very strong, very focused," Monday said.
Roesler said she "kind of had to start back to basics" as she worked through her injury, exercising and strengthening her lower body.
"I had to start over and that's never a bad thing," Roesler said.
Roesler took first place in the 800 at the House of Track High Performance Meet in Portland on Jan. 22 with a time of 2:04.4 seconds. She also ran a 2:05.25 the week before at the Texas A&M Team Invitational.
This past weekend Roesler continued to drop time, finishing second (behind Canadian record holder Melissa Bishop) at the Camel City Elite Races in Winston-Salem, N.C., with a time of 2:03.27.
"It's going to take a little while to get that racing feel back," Roesler said.
"These are all little stepping stones," said Karen Roesler, Laura's mom. "There is no sense getting ahead of yourself. It's all a work in progress."
Laura said she isn't looking ahead to the Trials, which are five months away.
"I'm trying to take it one day at a time, making sure everything stays good and healthy," Laura said.
The top three finishers in the 800, who have run the Olympic qualifying standard time of 2:01.5, make the U.S. Team in the event.
"It's going to be an absolute fight fight for anyone," Laura said. "The 800 is so deep. ... If I run hard and give everything I got and I don't make the team, there's not really anything I can do about that. It just says the U.S. is really good in the 800."