Wisconsin Dells cross country standout Laura Beghin hadn’t been able to finish what she started.
But after dealing with a pair of injuries, Beghin is working to get up to speed. Her timing is perfect: The South Central Conference meet, and the WIAA Division 2 sectional and state meets, are on tap over the next three Saturdays.
Beghin finished second to Gale-Ettrick-Trempealeau’s Dana Feyen in the past two WIAA Division 2 state cross country meets. Last year, she covered the 5,000-meter course at The Ridges Golf Course in Wisconsin Rapids in 18 minutes, 53 seconds, helping the Chiefs finish second.
But last offseason, the junior developed a stress fracture in her left tibia that sidelined her for the spring track and field season. Then, at the River Valley Invitational on Sept. 8, she pulled a hip flexor muscle and had to miss four competitions.
Last Saturday, she returned at the Colby/Abbotsford Invitational and finished seventh with a time of 21:10. Beghin was thankful for the chance to get a race under her belt — and to familiarize herself with the course she’ll run during the upcoming Colby sectional.
“It’s definitely been the hardest thing I have done,” she said. “I am a lot more humbled now and grateful to be able to run a couple laps.”
Beghin has spent time watching her running form on video to see what is happening with her stride and where improvements can be made to prevent future injuries.
Remaining patient during the rehabilitation process has proven difficult at times, but Beghin has been focusing on the big picture.
“Now that she is an upperclassman, she sees the importance of not necessarily winning every meet and trying to set a course record. That comes with maturity,” said Dean Knetter, Wisconsin Dells’ 10th-year coach.
Beghin, who wants to compete collegiately, has embraced various forms of non-impact training such as yoga and pool workouts. She hopes these approaches will pay dividends as the biggest meets of the season arrive.
“I’m in the best shape I have been in a while,” Beghin said. “Being extremely careful and not pushing yourself to run miles and miles (is important).”
In her final race before missing time with the hip flexor injury, Beghin posted a time of 19:50 at River Valley, finishing second and helping the Chiefs win the large-school division.
The postseason stepladder begins at 10 a.m. Saturday with the South Central Conference meet at Westfield. Season-best performances at the right time will be crucial, as the Chiefs return to Colby for sectionals on Oct. 20, hoping to advance to state the following week.
“Small growth during the season is what’s important,” Knetter said. “We have to peak at the right time.”
Beghin is appreciative of her teammates and coaches for helping her through an injury-riddled season. Despite not competing regularly, she has still played a role on the team.
“I knew I was going to be coming back and that I needed to do everything for my team to make them better,” Beghin said.
Each season, Knetter asks each athlete to pick a word to remember. Beghin’s word is “tough,” because battling through injury, missing races and building stamina for the big meets was never going to be easy.
“She is leading not only by example, but being vocal with it and accepting ‘this is what my role is. I’m going to continue to get a little bit stronger and then maybe at sectionals and at the state tournament look to go for it,’” Knetter said.
Beghin hopes the injuries that impacted her season are in the rear-view mirror. Beghin and Knetter agree that there’s no holding back now.