Clearing life’s hurdles

By Casey Kellas, The Observer May 22, 2013 10:50 am

La Grande’s Kayla Rasmussen, left, will compete in the 100-meter hurdles at the 4A state track meet Friday and Saturday in Eugene. Teammate Haley White, right, has the fifth-fastest time in the event heading into the state meet.
La Grande’s Kayla Rasmussen, left, will compete in the 100-meter hurdles at the 4A state track meet Friday and Saturday in Eugene. Teammate Haley White, right, has the fifth-fastest time in the event heading into the state meet.

La Grande’s Rasmussen comes back from illness to qualify for state 

There are always hurdles that we have to overcome in life.

At different points, it can seem like those hurdles are larger than others.

Kayla Rasmussen was able to overcome one of her toughest hurdles in her young life recently, and now she will look to bring home a state track championship. 

Rasmussen, a senior on the La Grande track and field team, missed most of the track season due to a stomach illness that kept her in the hospital for three days.

Her liver and spleen became enlarged and her strength was diminished.

“They didn’t really know what it was,” Rasmussen said. “It was just some kind of virus that affected me.”

Rasmussen said she got the flu during spring break, but after a week of having a 103-degree fever she went to the hospital. The doctors kept her and monitored her status.

Since she left, she has slowly gotten better.

Three weeks ago she was cleared to resume light training.

“I couldn’t really run for a while,” she said. “(When I was cleared), I started out just jogging.”

She returned to competition at the Heinz Invite May 4 in Ontario. She finished eighth in the 100 meters with a time of 13.52 seconds. Last year, she had a season-best of 12.77 seconds.

“It felt really good to get back out there,” Rasmussen said. “It was challenging at first.”

After competing at the Baker Invitational May 10, Rasmussen went to the Greater Oregon League district meet last weekend in Ontario where she was a defending champion in three events.

After training for only three weeks, she was able to will herself to a victory in the 100-meter hurdles, finishing in a time of 16.37 seconds to qualify for the state meet this week in Eugene.

“I didn’t really have any goals (at districts) because I didn’t know what to expect,” Rasmussen said.

Her comeback has impressed everyone, including her coach.

 “With sheer will and determination Kayla returned to take the district title in the 100 hurdles and earned her place back on the 400-meter relay team,” LHS head track and field coach Julie Bodfish said. “She has gotten stronger every week. I look for her to make a statement in the 100 hurdles.  She has handled her illness and recovery with grace. She has courage and determination and never gave up. I am proud of her.”

Having been to the state meet before, Rasmussen said she won’t be overwhelmed by the moment. But she also isn’t putting big expectations on herself.

“I hope we can do well in the relay,” Rasmussen said. “But I’m not really sure what to expect in the hurdles.”

She’s proven she can overcome the hurdles life throws her way. She’ll now try to overcome the hurdles on the track in Eugene.

LHS sends 17 to state

The Tigers will have 17 individuals competing at the state meet at Hayward Field in Eugene Friday and Saturday.

On the girls side, Jasmine Smith has the sixth-best mark (34 feet, 5-1/4 inches) at the 4A level in the triple jump and will try to place in the 800 meters. Amanda Welch will look to make some noise in the 1,500 meters and 3,000 meters.

Lexus Miller-Moylan has a chance to bring home hardware in the 200 and 400 meters.

“She has been improving every week and thrives on the competition,” Bodfish said. “She is an amazing addition to our team.”

Rasmussen, Miller-Moylan, Alora Brown and Haley White team up for the 400-meter relay race, while Smith, Miller-Moylan, Erin Bodfish and Ally Tsiatsos will compete in the 1,600-meter relay.

On the boys side, Leon Fuller takes the top javelin mark (182 feet) at the 4A level to the state meet. His teammate, Caleb Woodworth, is second (176 feet) in the state. Woodworth will also compete in the pole vault.

Jobin Reed will compete in three events, but his best bet at a medal is in the 300-meter hurdles, according to his coach.

“He has a great shot at being one of the top contenders in the 300 hurdles,” Bodfish said.

Cullen Hancock has the second-best mark in the pole vault at 14 feet, while freshman Blaine Kreutz will look to place in the triple jump. Noel March will compete in the 1,500 meters, and Elliott Johnason will take part in the 3,000 meters.

Shay Henderson will be a contender in the 200 meters, and he will anchor the 400-meter relay team with Reed, Fuller and Noah McLean.

“I hope the ‘Hayward Magic’ uplifts our kids and gives them their season-best performances,” Bodfish said. “They deserve a great weekend.  It has been an honor to coach them this season.”

Contact Casey Kellas at 541-975-3351 or This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it Follow Casey on Twitter @lgoKellas.