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Heath Hotzler, Published December 18 2009

Roesler, a 17-time ND state track champ, commits to the University of Oregon

Laura Roesler’s post-high school track and field career will continue at the American epicenter of the sport.

Roesler, a Fargo South senior who holds 17 North Dakota Class A state individual track and field titles, said Thursday she has committed to the University of Oregon.

“I think everything there was kind of the fit for what I was looking for,” said Roesler, whose three finalists also included Minnesota and Michigan. “… People were telling me on my visits that it would just feel right. My heart was telling me to go to Oregon.”

The university is located in Eugene, which is regarded by many as the running capital of the U.S.

Oregon’s Hayward Field has hosted four Olympic Trials, nine NCAA championships and six U.S. championships.

Roesler burst onto the national scene when she advanced to the semifinals of the 800-meter run at the Olympic Trials in Eugene as a 16-year-old sophomore. It was her first time in Eugene.

Former Oregon standout Steve Prefontaine remains the poster boy for the school and the city. Prefontaine earned a pair of national cross country titles and four 5-kilomoeter championships with the Ducks.

He held every American record from the 2-mile through the 10K when he was killed in a car accident in 1975 at age 25.

“(Attending Oregon) had never been in my sights,” said Roesler, who is undecided on a major. “I thought I could never go to that school. People couldn’t actually go there unless you are Prefontaine. … It had a big effect on me. It’s kind of like a runner’s dream out there.”

Roesler has won the 100, 200, 400 and 800 titles at the Class A state meet the last four years.

The Ducks women’s team finished second at last years NCAA Division I track and field meet.

Oregon will host the NCAA Division I outdoor championships in 2013 and 2014.

“This is my birthday present to myself,” said Roesler, who turns 18 on Saturday. “Just to get this relief (of choosing a school) and get it off my mind. It’s the best gift I could have given myself.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Heath Hotzler at (701) 241-5562