Staying put paying off for U’s Frawley

After a back injury, Alean Frawley opted to stay for one more throwing season.

by Lou Raguse

Last year, as a junior on Minnesota’s women’s track team, Alean Frawley had a bug in her ear all year long.

Coach Gary Wilson was trying to convince Frawley, who redshirted her freshman season, to return for her fourth year of eligibility.

Wilson pleaded with her and even offered to pay her – in scholarships, of course.

But Frawley was all set to graduate and leave her record-breaking Gophers shot put career behind.

Then, while training in the weight room, Frawley threw out her back and was unable to compete in the Big Ten and NCAA meets.

“I couldn’t end my career like that,” Frawley said.

She then told Wilson she’d accept the scholarship and return.

Now, in her fifth year at Minnesota, Frawley is a senior captain providing leadership to the youthful Gophers – all while posting first-place finishes in the shot put.

“I told her, ‘When you’re 65 and you’re a doctor, you’ll either have been a doctor for 30 years or a doctor for 29 years,’ ” Wilson said. “But you’ll never have the chance to be a collegiate thrower again.”

By returning for an extra year, Frawley is now able to do more than just tend to unfinished business in the throwing pits.

She provides senior leadership for a team consisting of 44 freshmen and sophomores. Gophers throwing coach Lynne Anderson describes Frawley as a liaison between coaches

and players.

“Being a captain and people looking up to her – both figuratively and literally – that’s really helped set the stage for these young kids,” Wilson said. “She’s been a great role model.”

And in this bonus season, Frawley’s personal goals are clear.

“I want to win the Big Ten and be an All-American,” she said.

Last Saturday at the Oregon Team Invitational, Frawley won the shot put event with throw of 48-02.75.

While the throw was good enough to qualify for the NCAA regionals, she still has a ways to go to match her school-record toss of 53-05.5 set last season.

“She’s just starting to get there,” Anderson said. “Five feet is a lot. But if she stays healthy, she can do big things.”

Anderson has worked with Frawley since she came in as a walk-on in 2000, helping her improve her glide and up her strength.

Frawley said she had no idea she would add 15 feet to her best high-school throw and eventually earn the top mark in Gophers history.

But now, as she works through the mental and physical difficulties of coming back from an injury, she said she’s anticipating the home stretch of the season.

“I struggled a lot through the indoor season,” Frawley said. “It’s frustrating, but now it’s coming. My work ethic has pulled me through.”

Drake sighted in

Wilson said the Gophers will not travel to the Mt. SAC Relays in California this weekend and will instead send a small group to a meet hosted by Northern Iowa.

“We were on the road eight out of the last 12 days, so we were pretty toasted – coaches and athletes alike,” Wilson said. “We’re just trying to regroup and get some good workouts in the next week.”

The next big competition for the Gophers is the Drake Relays on April 22-23 in Des Moines, Iowa.

Reder honored

Men’s track and field thrower Lynden Reder was honored as the co-Big Ten athlete of the week Tuesday. Reder broke his own hammer throw school record last weekend in Oregon with a heave of 209-1.