R-P grad named All-American track athlete

Rushford-Peterson alumni Ashley Agrimson was recently named an All-American track athlete when she placed fifth in the long jump competition at the NCAA Division Three National Indoor Track Meet held in Boston, Mass.

U-W Eau Claire competitor and R-P alumni Ashley Agrimson at the NCAA Division Three National Indoor Track Meet where she earned fifth place.
By : 
Chad Smith
Tri-County Record

Ashley Agrimson can now add “All-American” to her college sports resume. The 2017 R-P grad is a member of the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire women’s track team and placed fifth in the long jump at the NCAA Division Three National Indoor Track Meet in Boston, Massachusetts, March 8-9.

That fifth-place finish makes Agrimson an All-American track athlete, a fact she admits still hasn’t really hasn’t sunk in yet. “My first thought after placing fifth was that I was super excited,” Agrimson giggled from a phone in the UW-Eau Claire library. “I was really shocked. I’d never been to the national meet before and it was kind of a blur. Now, as I look back, it’s really an honor.

“I thought I would be super-nervous going into the national meet. We got to practice at the facility for two days before the meet began. That gave me time to take in the big facility and look around. Once the meet itself began, I just concentrated on what I needed to do and wasn’t all that nervous.”

Agrimson is just finishing up her sophomore year of college and has had a lot of success in her first two track seasons. How do you explain that level of success so quickly? “I just think the coaches really do a great job of setting us up to succeed,” she said.

Chip Schneider is the head coach of the BluGolds track team. He said Agrimson’s level of success is remarkable given that she’s just a sophomore and still learning the ins and outs of competing at the college level.

“She went from someone last year that placed consistently in our conference to one of the top people in our conference,” Schneider said. “She set our school’s long-jump record at the national meet. She didn’t cower at the national meet at all, but rather took the challenge, stepped up to it, and probably had her best series of jumps as a whole at the national meet.

“Ashley is young but she’s also talented. Talent doesn’t always note age. We knew what we were getting when we recruited her. She’s tall and she’s fast. I think her improved speed this year is the biggest reason she’s taken such a huge step forward in her jumps. She ran the 60-meter dash during the indoor season for us and did really well.”

Agrimson competed in track during her four years at R-P high school. She had an inkling during her senior year that she wasn’t ready to give up track just yet.  “I knew I would miss track so much that I had to try in college,” she said. “I’ve always wanted to do track in college but wasn’t sure if I could. Once I started getting recruiting letters from college track coaches, that’s when I began to think that I could be a student-athlete somewhere.

“I took a tour of (UW) Eau Claire and took part in what they call an ‘Elite Recruit Day,’ I got to meet the coach and some of the current athletes. After talking with them and hearing from the other athletes how much they enjoy running track here, I knew this is where I wanted to be.”

Agrimson loves the fact that track and field is a personal sport, but it’s also a team competition as well. She also likes that there are attainable goals laid out before her to achieve as she improves at the sport. While she had the most success in the long jump, Agrimson competes in multiple events for Eau Claire. Schneider said Agrimson is a dedicated athlete.

“I could already tell in the fall that she was ready to come in and put in another year of work,” he recalled. “The work actually begins in the weight room during the summer. When they get to campus in the fall, they’re doing some running with that lifting. The official first day of track practice is the first Monday in November. The indoor season is a long one, plus we still have the outdoor season ahead of us.

“She has done a really good job of doing the right things, taking care of herself, and being out there every day and ready to perform.”

Both the athletes and the coaches have a good idea of what each student-athlete’s main events have been in the past. Coming into each season, Agrimson said the athletes compete with each other to figure out which events they’ll be competing in.

“At the beginning of the season, we have what the coaches call ‘Time Trials,’” she said. “That’s the first competition of the year. You compete in different events in order to get a spot on the roster. That’s the main way we decide what events the athletes will be in.”

One of the biggest challenges in being a student-athlete is balancing the time demands between schoolwork and team activities. At first, Agrimson worried about the demands. Now, she uses the fact that she’ll have three hours of practice every afternoon as motivation to get her schoolwork done earlier in the day. “I’m majoring in Kinesiology,” she said. “I’m studying what’s called ‘rehab science.’ I’ll go to graduate school after I’m done here at Eau Claire and study occupational therapy after I graduate with my Kinesiology degree.”

In the meantime, practice for the spring outdoor track season actually began this past Monday, March 18. Schneider said Agrimson won’t do too many different events than what she competed in during the indoor season. “She ran the 60-meter dash indoors, which will turn into a 100-meter dash during the outdoor season,” he said. “She’ll probably run one of the legs on our 4X100-meter relay team, something she’s never done before. Based on how that team ran during the indoor season, I’m hoping they’ll have a good shot to make it to the outdoor national meet.”