Anna Rodgers is in a happy place again.
The Lewis and Clark senior almost feels like a freshman again.
She broke onto the high school track scene with a flourish her freshman season. Rodgers, just a few months removed from middle school, was running in the low 12 seconds in the 100 meters and winning a state title. She eclipsed 25 seconds in the 200, earning third at state. She inched past 19 feet in the long jump, taking second at state. And she ran a leg on the state-winning 800 relay.
Unlimited potential were the words that best described Rodgers’ future.
Then there were her sophomore and junior seasons. Injuries began to plague Rodgers. First it was plantar fasciitis and last year it was tendinitis in her hip.
Although she’s managed to place second two out of three years at state in the long jump while fighting through the injuries, her other events suffered.
She was eighth in the 100 at state as a sophomore and seventh as a junior. She was reduced to running straight in sprints and had to drop the 200 because of the curved start.
Now Rodgers wants to make up for lost time.
“She’s as healthy as she’s ever been,” LC coach Dan Hilsendeger said. “She looks fantastic. Emotionally, physically, mentally – this is good as I’ve ever seen Anna come into the track season.”
It had been suggested that Rodgers’ injuries were brought on by overtraining.
“I don’t think so,” Rodgers said. “I’ve always had tendinitis in my hip, but I can control it better now. I just realize how much my body can take. I’ve put my focus in the weight room, and my coaches have taught me my limits.”
Rodgers gives much credit to Hilsendeger, her club coach, Cecil Jackson, and a pair of new assistants, Celeste and Greg Kuntz, along with an LC teacher, Lynda Rypien.
“She’s been one of my biggest and most inspirational supporters,” Rodgers said of Rypien. “She’s kept me positive and hopeful the past couple years and is a big part of my track career.”
Especially during the frustrating times.
Rodgers has high goals this season, but she’s poised to go after them. She wants to finish her LC career with four state titles.
She holds the school record in the 100 (11.90) and the long jump (19-1 1/4) along with the 400 relay (47.75). She wants to add the 200 school mark to her haul.
Rodgers attended four indoor meets this winter. She went an overall personal-best 19-5 1/2 in the long jump at the Simplot Games in Pocatello last month.
She wants to exceed 20 feet this spring. She also wants to get into the mid to low 11s in the 100 and the low 24s to high 23s in the 200.
“She’s easily one of the most fluid athletes I have ever seen,” Central Valley coach Geoff Arte said. “Like all of the really good ones, she makes it look so effortless. It is pretty amazing what she has accomplished, especially given that sprints and jumps have been absolutely loaded the past four years. It shows you what type of competitor she is.”
Rodgers, who carries a 3.8 grade-point average, is considering scholarship offers from the University of Washington and UCLA.
Born in Corvallis, Rodgers was adopted at birth. She is black with white parents.
“I don’t know who my birth parents are, but I’d like to explore that someday,” Rodgers said.
Rodgers grew up playing soccer. She was a four-year letter winner for LC but was slowed by the injuries.
Soccer was her favorite sport until she realized success in track her freshman year.
LC took second at state behind Rodgers three years ago. The Tigers slipped to 11th and seventh the past two years, respectively.
Hilsendeger wants LC to get back on the trophy podium this spring. But Rodgers wants more. She wants the gold team trophy.
“We have a very good team. We’re surging for a team title,” Rodgers said.
Hilsendeger is excited to see the season unfold. He’s particularly pleased with Rodgers’ development in another area.
“Her leadership skills are blowing me away,” he said. “This is truly an Anna Rodgers that I’m excited to see compete.”
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