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Kelly Smith, Published December 23 2009

10 to Watch: Runner headed for fresh start

EDITOR'S NOTE: narrowed the list. The result is our “10 to Watch in 2010” list. It’s an elite group of local folks – some you already know, some you’re likely to know soon – who are poised to be newsmakers in 2010. Look for this feature to run daily through Dec. 31.

In her high school track career, Laura Roesler has consistently run ahead of the pack. Now, the Olympic-hopeful continues to mark her own trail.

While her older sister and father have North Dakota State University ties, the 18-year-old will don yellow and green – not as a Bison, but as a Duck at the University of Oregon.

“It’s nice for me to get a fresh start,” the Fargo South High School senior said. “It’s a big change.”

Until then, Roesler has her final high school sports season starting in March.

“They may expect stuff,” she said of others. But, “however I do, I’ll be happy with it. I don’t want to expect too much and fail. I just want to improve.”

In her six-year career, she’s broken the state record for 200-, 400- and 800-meter races and won 17 individual state track titles.

So what’s left this year?

She aims to beat her time in the 800-meter run, take first place at state for the 200-, 400- and 800-meter races and break the 100-meter race record.

If she does, that would put her as the record holder of the most individual state track titles.

In 2008, the track star competed at the U.S. Olympic Trials at the age of 16. She hopes to compete again in 2012, but isn’t getting her hopes up beyond that.

“I’ll still be pretty young, still learning,” she said.

After college, family and a career top her list of priorities, then running.

In fact, though running has given her a renowned high school career, she said it doesn’t define her.

While classmates at Fargo South know her as Laura the runner, those who know Laura the teen know she’s an “A” student, a twin, a modest and mature 18-year-old, an experienced pianist and a laid-back girl as excited for prom as any teen.

“She’s got a lot to offer other than just running,” said her mom, Karen Roesler.

That’s why, when Roesler moves to Oregon, she’ll focus on general studies, getting to know the campus and making new friends.

Oh, and running.

“Everybody’s competing at a higher level,” she said. “Just to be in the mix … (it’s) a lot more exciting.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Kelly Smith at (701) 241-5515