Kayla Rasmussen flies over a hurdle during her junior year at the Oregon state track and field championships in Eugene. She recently signed to run track at Eastern Oregon.
Recent Eastern Oregon signee looks to collegiate career after high school senior season derailed by illness
After a tumultuous senior year as part of the La Grande High School track and field team, Kayla Rasmussen relishes her shot at redemption after committing to run for Eastern Oregon University.
“I’m excited to see what I can do, because I never got to finish how I wanted to,” she said.
Kayla recently inked with EOU to run for its track and field program beginning in the fall. While most newcomers would be graduates of the 2014 high school class and coming off of successful senior years, she had to endure a longer route to get back on the track.
Coming off of a runner-up finish in the 300-meter hurdles, while placing fourth in the 100 hurdles at the 2012 4A state championships, Kayla eyed a grand finale atop the podium during her senior year.
It all was going according to plan, until her stomach began to ache.
At first, Kayla, a 2013 high school graduate, felt it was a typical flu. However, when the pain persisted after a week, she and her family made a trip to the doctor. Initially, they could not make a diagnosis of what was afflicting her — and it never really did get resolved.
Her mother, Betty, said the unknown was the scariest part.
“They never really decided what it was,” Betty said. “It was kind of like mono. It was a virus that attacked her system, possibly because she was training so hard and she was weakened.”
All mystery aside, the virus was nonetheless a debilitating one for Rasmussen.
“It was really scary,” Kayla said. “It attacked my organs, my heart – it caused it to start beating off-rhythm. It was hard to run without losing my breath.”
Initially, her parents just wanted to see her regain her good health without regards to athletics.
“We were most concerned with her being okay,” Betty said. “We felt bad for her, because she had goals in track, but those hit the backburner.”
What the medical professionals prescribed was rest, and lots of it. Rasmussen was still able to compete, although not up to her standards. During the 2013 track season, taking the top spot in the Greater Oregon League 100 hurdles at districts, while anchoring the 4-by-400 meter relay team that placed 12th at state.
“It was tough at first, but I still had fun my senior year and getting to do track with all my friends,” Kayla said. “I was grateful for that year.”
The doctors told Rasmussen it would take a year for her to regain her strength. This past fall, she attended BYU-Idaho.
“I just wanted to get out of La Grande for a little bit,” she said.
For the full story, see Friday's issue of The Observer