It was the first practice session of the indoor season at the Westwood Complex in Sterling where the Princeton High School track and field team was preparing for the new season. PHS senior Laura Fredenhagen was making her approach down the pole vault pit runway, just as she’s done hundreds of times in her high school career.
But this time here whole senior season came crashing down. She had a crash landing into the box and wrenched her knee, tearing her ACL and ending her season before it even started.
“I think I slowed down at the end and didn’t get any momentum to go into the pit and fell into the box,” she said.
Fredenhagen said she was trying to avoid re-aggravating an ankle injury and came down wrong.
“I heard a loud pop and it hurt right away,” she said. “(The pain) went away in a couple minutes and I walked on it, but it wouldn’t support me.”
Other than “scraping my knee,” Fredenhagen said she’s never hurt her knee before.
It happened on Feb. 14. Some Valentine’s Day present.
“That’s OK, I don’t blame Valentine’s Day,” she said.
Fredenhagen’s injury came at a most inopportune time heading into a senior season of high promise. She placed fourth as a junior, clearing 11 feet even, good for a Bureau County record, and looked to go much higher under the tutelage of PHS vault guru Lew Flinn.
“It’s really tough. I just miss track a lot,” said Fredenhagen, a top sprinter who led the 2011 BCR Honor Roll in the 100 meters with a 12.8 clocking. “It’s frustrating not being able to run or vault my senior year. It’s hard to see it go on. I’m trying to get ready for next season.
Next season, Fredenhagen will be vaulting for the ISU Redbirds. She said she’s been assured by Redbird coaches her scholarship offer is still good and they look for to be ready to compete next year.
“I think I’ll be fine by next season. They said I should be ready by then,” she said.
Flinn said it’s just an overall bad deal, feeling bad for working Fredenhagen under some rushed conditions during PHS’ rented practice time at the Westwood complex. He said it hurts him maybe even more than it hurts Fredenhagen, knowing how much work she’s put in over the years.
“She’s worked so hard for three years,” said Flinn, who retired as vault coach after the indoor season. “She worked the offseason all the time. She was in perfect shape, weight was good. I was looking for a 12-foot vault, this year. I think she would have done it.”
Fredenhagen says her rehab is going all right, but “I’m ready to do more.” She hopes to get her big brace off soon.
The PHS senior said the research paper in Elizabeth Anderson’s Brit Lit class is helping to keep her mind off her knee.
“It’s one of my favorite classes,” she said.
Knowing Laura, I know she’ll work hard to make it back and join the Redbird family where her father, Charlie, played football.
• In closing: Prayers are needed for two Princeton boys, Conner Alter and Jordan Reinhardt, who are recovering from an ATV accident on Easter Day. Both are mending OK, their families say. Also condolences go to the Alter family, who lost their father/grandfather, Tim. He was one of the first soccer coaches for Princeton Youth Soccer when the league formed in 1982.
Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org