When Annie Dougherty was suffering through a leg injury during her junior year at Soldotna High School, Stars track and field coach Mark Devenney gave her a wood sign that said, "Tough times don't last. Tough people do."
The Next Level highlights Kenai Peninsula athletes who have gone on to participate in athletics after high school. If you know of any such athlete, contact the Clarion sports department by phone at 283-7551, by fax at 283-3299 or by e-mail at
Dougherty lasted, all right. To the tune of two individual titles, two relay titles and a team title her senior year at the 1997 state track and field championships.
So when Dougherty, now in her fourth year as a runner at North Dakota State University in Fargo, N.D., underwent arthroscopic surgery on her left knee in August, she had some advice to fall back on.
"When I was injured in high school, (Devenney) gave me a lot of helpful advice," Dougherty said Tuesday in a phone interview from North Dakota, where she still has the wood sign hanging on her wall. "I carried that advice with me through this year."
When Dougherty arrived home in Alaska last June from North Dakota, she took a few weeks off and then tried to resume running. A pain in her left knee suddenly emerged, making it impossible for her to run for even five minutes.
"I ended up cross training instead," Dougherty said. "I was kind of in denial because I didn't have any pain in North Dakota and I didn't do anything before I started running in Alaska."
However, after a month Dougherty still couldn't run so she ended up in Anchorage in a doctor's office. In August, the doctor cleaned some scar tissue out of her knee during arthroscopic knee surgery but didn't find any structural damage.
Dougherty redshirted the fall cross country season, using the time instead for rehabilitation, and started doing indoor track workouts around Christmas.
"I did the treadmill at home for three weeks over Christmas break," Dougherty said. "I had some good runs, then I had some good workouts before my first meet."
Dougherty went on to have a successful indoor season. At the North Central Conference Indoor Track and Field Championships on Feb. 23 and 24, Dougherty finished second in the mile run with a time of 5:01.02 as the NDSU team captured its second straight indoor title.
She also teamed with Grace Christian graduate Cortney Ward, among others, to win the conference title for the Bison in the 3,200-meter relay.
Dougherty's time in the mile was good enough to qualify her for the NCAA Division II Indoor Track and Field Championships, which will be held Friday and Saturday in Boston. Going into the meet, Dougherty has the 10th best time in the country.
The top three in each of two heats, plus the next four fastest times overall, will advance to Saturday's final.
Dougherty said her goal at the meet is to break the five-minute barrier, which she has never done before, and finish in the top eight, which would give her All-American honors. She has never gotten that honor in indoor track before.
There are two factors that Dougherty hopes propel her to her goal. First, there's experience. Dougherty has been to cross country nationals three times and this is her second time at indoor track nationals.
Although Dougherty has been at NDSU four years, after this year she still has a year of eligibility in cross country due to redshirting this year and indoor track due to missing last year with the flu.
"This is the first year I'm actually prepared," she said. "I've been there a lot, but I've been going in scared a little bit about the competition.
"This year, I'm a lot more confident. I know what I'm getting into this year."
Dougherty also thinks the injury may help her, just like her injury-plagued junior year at Soldotna High boosted her to greatness as a senior.
"Looking back at high school, pretty much the same thing happened," Dougherty said. "When you can't run, you just want to run so much more. Somehow, injuries are good for you."
Kenai's Haynes earns letter at Coe
David Haynes of Kenai was awarded an athletic letter for his participation with the men's soccer team at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.
Haynes, a junior defender for the Kohawks, played in 16 of Coe's 18 matches, starting 12 of them. Haynes scored a goal and notched three assists for the Kohawks.
Coe, an NCAA Division III school, went 6-12 overall and 4-5 in the Iowa Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.
Reemtsma walks on at Cedarville
Kenai's Joel Reemtsma, a freshman at Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio, made the Yellow Jackets men's varsity soccer team as a walk-on last fall.
Reemtsma, 5-foot-11, 165-pound forward, appeared in three games for the 9-9-2 Yellow Jackets, notching an assist.
NAIA-affliated Cedarville went 5-4-2 in the American Mideast Conference and lost in the first round of the National Christian College Athletic Association Midwest Regional by a goal to Indiana Wesleyan in November.
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