The Emotional Relay

By Jeremy McDonald

jeremymcdonald73@gmail.com

TURNER, Ore.–  Track is an emotional sport.  It’s where all the blood, sweat, tears you put in really does pay off.  Where the hard work and sacrifice when you punch in during practice pays off come payday on meet day.

It was the District Meet Cascade’s Ashley Fraser’s freshman year in Newport where everything came to fruition for the now-Senior.  Where the emotions of the moment caught up with her.

Her leg, the third leg of the 4×400 relay, had created a cushion for the Cougars relay team over rival-Stayton who were sitting in third at the time.  It was the fastest she’s ever ran she said that May-day on the coast as the relay team finished second behind Newport.

“After handing off the baton to our fourth leg Renae Beckmann, I stumbled off of the track, hardly able to stand. I was an emotional wreck knowing we had a very high chance at going to state,” Fraser recalls of the race.  “Looking back, that moment still means so much to me now as a senior. I picture those days and I just wish I could have it all back, and relive those moments.

“I want to experience the butterflies and excitement track brings once more. I just want every little moment on the track I can get.”

Fraser (left) crying after her leg of the 4×400 meter relay in Newport. Fraser and the 4×400 relay team finished second at the Oregon West Conference District Meet her freshman year and were fifth at the 4A State Meet that Year at Hayward Field (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

Fraser and the Cascade 4×400 team finished fifth in the 4A State meet that year, the then-freshman also had also contributed to the 4×100 relay team to their sixth-place finish in that race as well.  As a freshman, to go to Hayward Field in Eugene was astonishing.

But she just went with the flow with it as the squad performed and podiumed in both of the relay races.

“Making it to state my freshman year for both relay events was awesome to say the least. I remember looking around Hayward field and thinking about how astonishing the environment was when I first walked through the entrance,” Fraser said.  “It was just amazing how real and official it all really was, as a freshman I didn’t know what to think or what to expect, I just went with the flow.

“Seeing our success from that year seriously makes me so happy. I am so proud of the determination we all had. If we wanted something, we chased it and never gave up. The trust we held in one another was everything. It was so inspiring to see our imagined goals become a real-life experience we will all hold onto. To this day that experience motivates me and gets me so eager to get out there and compete at that level again.”

Cascade finished ninth as a team that year and 16th her sophomore year as she returned with the 4×400 team.  Younger than they were the year before, Fraser the oldest as a sophomore along with three freshmen with her, but still finished seventh in the relay race at Mount Hood Community College in Gresham.

With how complex the relay is, and at the stage they were on, Fraser admits that they did really well considering how young they were.  Their coach, Kelley Borresen, had told him how lucky they were because they were able to grow and strive to get better together.  Connection is important and they had that within the first couple of weeks Fraser said.

Fraser (Adidas pant) and her relay team at the John Oliver Invitational in midway through the 2018 season at Central High School (Picture By Jeremy McDonald)

“I feel that we did very well considering the freshmen were new to the high school level competition, and I had just only one year under my belt. When you’re on a relay team there is so much you have to keep track of and pay attention to, and for my freshman year that was the upperclassman’s job since I was still new to the program,” Fraser starts.  “However, since my 2019 girls relay team was all relatively close in age, we all had to hold that responsibility for each meet. It really gave us a higher sense of maturity and focus which was so good for us.”

Fraser lives for the relay races.  She enjoys them even though how technical they can be with getting the hand-offs right, timing with them and so on and so forth.  The workouts given to them from their coaches in Anthony Williams and Borresen helped prepare them for success on the track, and they got to translate that over to Meet Time.

Some call it torture going through those workouts, Fraser calls it therapy.  Track and Field means a lot to her, and with the Coronavirus Pandemic shelved her Junior year and is threatening her Senior Year with the same result, Fraser admits that this downtime has made her realize how easy they had it entering last March. 

Taking for granted the little things she just became accustomed to up to this point of her athletic career as she hopes to put on those spikes one last time this Spring.

“Track and Field is so much more than a sport. It’s an escape or like therapy in a way, the amount of happiness it brings to myself and my teammates is so surreal. This sport has allowed me to earn so many incredible opportunities and has connected me to so many amazing people, I don’t know where I would be without it,” Fraser said of the sport.

“I am definitely going to cherish all of the time spent with my teammates and coaches. I want to spend my last year on the track as a student athlete having fun and inspiring those around me. But more than ever I am going to appreciate every single second I can get on that Cascade Track.”

Those workouts she’s grateful for, Both Williams and Borresen, plus Head Coach Molly Gehley, Fraser is grateful for in their support for her and her teammates.  Leaving behind so much love and support for them on a daily basis as Fraser and her teammates wait for one last journey with her coaches in April.

“We are so blessed to have you guys as our coaches but more importantly, family! Thank you for supporting and helping us every single step of the way,” Fraser said of her coaches.

Photos By Jeremy McDonald

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