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Eric Peterson, Published May 05 2012

Crunch time arrives for Roesler, Oregon

Fargo - A weekend ago, Laura Roesler helped hoist a “Wagon Wheel” over her head at historic Franklin Field in Philadelphia.

That was the reward for being part of Oregon’s women’s 3,200-meter relay, which took first place at the Penn Relays, the oldest and largest track and field competition in the United States.

“That was amazing,” said Roesler, a former Fargo South track star. “I’ve always watched the Penn Relays on TV. To be there and race and win a Wheel the first time out was a pretty exciting moment.”

Roesler ran the second leg, clocking a 2 minutes, 4.5 seconds split to help the Ducks finish the race in a time of 8:24.16. That Penn experience has been a season highlight for Roesler, a sophomore.

“She is really fitting in well,” said Ducks associate women’s head coach Robert Johnson. “She is more comfortable being in her own skin.”

Next up for Roesler: “championship season.”

Oregon hosts the Pac-12 Championships next weekend at Hayward Field in Eugene. The regional NCAA meets are later this month, with the NCAA outdoor championships slated for early June.

“Championships season is fun,” Roesler said. “That’s the most exciting part of the season.”

The 5-foot-6 Roesler was a four-time All-American as a freshman, anchoring the winning 1,600 relay team at the Pac-10 meet. She also anchored the 1,600 relay (3:28.18) that set a school record at last year’s NCAA outdoor meet.

“She continues to improve on everything I ask her to do on the technical side of things,” Johnson said.

Roesler has evolved into a “more mature racer,” she said, in her second outdoor campaign with the Ducks. She is staying more relaxed and has learned to take the ups and downs in stride.

Roesler has one of the top 25 times in Division I in the 800 this outdoor season at 2:05.83. She clocked a career-best 2:03.12 as a freshman. Roesler isn’t too concerned that she hasn’t run a better 800 time event than she did last season to this point.

Placing and running a sound tactical race are more important in most situations.

“It’s not all about time during the year,” Roesler said. “When you start focusing on time a lot, you just kind of drive yourself crazy. I think I would rather be a national champion than run 2-flat. It just kind of depends on the situation.”

Johnson said Roesler “broke the race open” during her leg of the 3,200 relay at the Penn Relays.

Johnson is confident Roesler is primed for a big performance in the open 800 as the Ducks enter the championship part of their outdoor season.

“It’s a matter of putting together a complete race,” Johnson said. “I think there are some good things in store for her.”

Readers can reach Forum reporter Eric Peterson at (701) 241-5513.

Peterson’s blog can be found at peterson.areavoices.com