Rachel Koenig had to go through the pain of shin splints for most of her senior track season at Onalaska Luther High School.
With her legs heavily bandaged, Koenig made a standing start in the Division 3 women’s 400 meters and finished fourth on the podium in 59.75 seconds at the WIAA track and field meet Saturday at Veterans Memorial Field Sports Complex.
“It was awesome,” Koenig said. “It was so nerve-wracking, but once I started I just forgot about all the nerves and had fun with it.”
Koenig, a Knights star in basketball and volleyball, said the injury usually bothers her on competition days until it’s time to run. Despite the injury, Koenig recorded a victory at the Onalaska Open on April 26 in the 400m and a third-place finish at the Coulee Conference meet on May 14.
“It hurts, but once you get there you don’t really feel it,” Koenig said. “All the adrenaline helps it fade away. … It hurt a bit during warm-ups, but that’s typical for competitions. Once I go there, it doesn’t bother me at all.
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The injury is not what contributed to a standing start. Koenig said she never started on blocks in her high school career.
“I just wasn’t very comfortable with it and didn’t think about changing it at the state level,” Koenig said.
The fourth place finish ends Koenig’s high school career with her now set to play basketball at the Division II level with Bemidji State University. Koenig tried to put the day into perspective after his trip to the state podium.
“It’s a beautiful tragedy,” Koenig said. “You’re sad it’s over, but there’s nothing to be sad about today.”
James Krause can be reached by email at [email protected] or on Twitter @jkrausepro.