"It's nice to have this team. They are very supportive. The coaches are beyond amazing." -- Tierney Wolfgram
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Over the weekend, Tierney Wolfgram revealed some core values that will be on her mind this fall. They're pretty simple.
Focus on you. Be around people who support you. Race happy.
"Really just to focus on me," said Wolfgram, 16, who won the girls jayvee race at the Lakeville Applejack Invitational on Saturday in the fastest time of the day, 18:08.56. "I'll be JV pretty much all of in-state season, so it's really just a rebound season, to focus on me, my times, how I feel. And just enjoy running."
Seems easy, right?
But there were moments last fall when things were less so. Before transferring to Woodbury (MN) High School in March of last year, Wolfgram was a prodigious talent and Foot Locker Nationals All-American racing for Math & Science Academy.
All was going swimmingly until she ran the Minneapolis Twin Cities Marathon last October, finishing sixth in a new world age group record of 2 hours, 40 minutes and 3 seconds. Injuries followed -- more than one. She was unable to finish the Minnesota's Class 1A cross country state championship, then did not qualify for either Nike Cross Nationals or Foot Locker Nationals at either of the race's regionals.
The transfer to Woodbury -- Wolfgram is actually enrolled in a Postsecondary Enrollment Option (PSEO), where she takes dual-enrollment college courses off-campus and is able to compete for the high school team -- prompted the MSHSL to hand her a one-year suspension from varsity competition.
Which sort of resembles the situation Easton Allred was in last year. The former Colorado athlete was also handed a one-year suspension following a transfer to Mountain Vista High School, then was forced to race jayvee before eventually returning to national races through non-state association competition -- he ended up doing just fine, finishing fifth at NXN.
Wolfgram's road will look similar. She'll be eligible once the outdoor season hits.
For any other athlete, all those events would have made for a ridiculously stressful few months. Over that span she had to deal with two separate fractures in the second and third metatarsal in her left foot.
But Wolfgram, now a high school junior, made it out, and she said on Saturday she learned through the experience. Most importantly, she's healthy.
"They monitored me pretty well," Wolfgram said of her coaches. "It's pretty much training I'm familiar with. So nothing new. It just helped bring me back to life. I'm beyond happy with how I've come from not being able to run to now."
Beyond the coaching tree at Woodbury, she said family and friends also helped.
"I definitely need to be surrounded by supportive people," she said. "My family. I couldn't ask for anyone better. And this team."
Saturday's race was typical Tierney: Strong, concise, to-the-point.
About the only note of contention was the time. She didn't break 18 minutes -- and yet it was just one second off the course record of 18:07.29.
"It was OK," she said. "Not every race will be great. I was just. I was focused on staying healthy here."
When asked whether she would be running the marathon again in October, Wolfgram revealed she's not, though did leave open the possibility of the 10-miler.
Just as long as it fits into her training, she said. And as long as it makes her happy.
"We'll see," she said.