Three years ago, Lisa Dyer attended the Minnesota State High School League Track and Field Championships at the National Sports Center in Blaine as a tennis playing spectator.
She sat in the stands watching a friend compete, wishing to someday run in the championships.
“But then I thought to myself, `No way, that would be a joke. I would never be able to run here,'” Dyer said.
Once intimidated by the competition, Dyer played the intimidator role at the State championships over the weekend, helping Moorhead win the team competition with a pair of second-place finishes in two of the most exciting races of the weekend.
The wide-eyed former tennis player has blossomed into one of the top runners in the state and will attend the University this fall as an integral part of a solid recruiting class.
In the 3,200-meter race on Friday, Dyer finished less than a second behind winner Shannon Bergstedt of Hopkins. Each runner broke the previous state record.
On Saturday, Dyer once again finished a close second to Bergstedt in the 1,600-meter race. Each race was punctuated by a final sprint to the end, leaving the rest of the competition lagging behind.
Dyer can relate. After dropping tennis to focus on running, she was initially unsuccessful. But hard work has led her rise to the top.
“I started training year-round and I got stronger,” Dyer said. “I then competed at state last year and that got me motivated to train even harder. I wanted to be one of the best runners in the state.”
Dyer’s father, Neil, said in the past 18 months he has seen a dramatic improvement in his daughter’s performance on the track, mainly due to her concentration.
“She is a very driven and focused person,” Neil Dyer said. “When she sees something she wants, she goes after it.”
Dyer has also shown amazing improvement as a cross country runner for Moorhead. She was the state champion in the 4,000-meter run as a senior after being ranked 45th as a junior.
“She came out of the woodwork,” Gopher women’s track and field coach Gary Wilson said. “Division I athletes are hard to find, and keeping the best Minnesota kids to help our program is always a priority.”
Having excelled at the high school level, Dyer said she is excited to become a Gopher and is looking forward to competing against some of the top runners in the nation.
Despite being recruited by other Division I schools such as Nebraska and Tennessee, along with many Division II programs, Dyer felt Minnesota was the place for her.
“I liked Coach Wilson, he was interested in me as an athlete and as a person, too,” Dyer said. “He not only seemed to care about my running but my well-being as a person.”
Like the track she runs, Dyer’s high school career has now come full circle. In the championships she once watched as a spectator, others now watch her – mostly from behind.
Brian Hall welcomes comments at [email protected]