GREAT FALLS — Chester-Joplin-Inverness senior Abby Fraser is competing in her first season of high school track and field.
“I love the atmosphere of it. I love talking to all my friends at every meet,” Fraser said. “It’s my favorite. I love running. So I'm glad I can get back and do what I love doing.”
If it were up to Fraser, she would have been competing for state track hardware all four years of high school. But life had other plans.
Track and field has been Fraser’s favorite sport since she first started to run. But a series of three ACL tears - two in her right knee, and one on her left - combined with a lost year due to COVID-19 canceling the 2020 spring season, kept her from competing as a freshman, sophomore and junior.
“My freshman year of volleyball, I was going up for a block and I changed my mind, I wanted to spike it. So I came down and I twisted my knee,” Fraser said. “So that was my first one during our first game, actually.”
After months of rehab and recovery, Fraser was cleared to return to the basketball court.
“So then my second one, it was our district basketball tournament and I tore it the very last game,” she recalled.
More rehab and physical therapy. Then more setbacks.
“My third one, I was coaching junior high volleyball, and I was showing them how to hit the ball and I just came down wrong and I tore it a third time, five months after my second one,” Fraser recalled. “So it just kind of a fluke accident for all of them.”
Call it bad luck, call it fate. But there's no question Fraser’s athletic high school sports career didn’t turn out the way the hyper-athletic Hawk would have hoped. But where many athletes would have given up or got discouraged, Fraser remained upbeat. And to this day, you won’t hear one complaint.
“I’m here now,” she said. “And I'm having a great time and I love every second of it.”
There were challenges and hard days, sure. But the results this year have made the effort to return to track worthwhile. So far in 2021, Fraser’s times and marks have gotten better each week.
She has the top 100-meter dash time in District 9C (13.57 seconds), the second-best mark in javelin (105 feet, 6 inches) and the third-best mark in the long jump (14 feet, 8 inches).
She’s done all of this with an injured quad which she partially tore during the first week of practice.
“It's just a sharp pain, just all the way up my leg,” she said. “But we'll get through it though.”
Fraser credits her family, friends, coaches, teammates and doctors for helping her get through the long hours to rehab and physical therapy.
“The days were long and mentally and physically draining, but the PT girls that helped me through it all were amazing,” Fraser said. “And they helped me through everything and all the challenges I faced. So I'm really thankful that I have the people that I have in my life supporting me.”
Fraser had received offers and interest from colleges to continue track at the next level, but her experiences have convinced her to choose a different path.
“I'm kind of thinking of going into PT school or health and human performance or something with athletics,” she said. “After everything I went through, I think that's going to be the best choice for me and I think I'm going to love it.”