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Wesleyan's Frerking learns quickly on way to state title

Staff Photo: John Bohn Wesleyan athlete Katie Frerking has committed to the Auburn women's basketball program. She also was the Daily Post's Field Performer of the Year in track and field in 2012 after winning the Class A state championship in the high jump and is a key member of the Wolves' state playoff softball team this season.

Staff Photo: John Bohn Wesleyan athlete Katie Frerking has committed to the Auburn women's basketball program. She also was the Daily Post's Field Performer of the Year in track and field in 2012 after winning the Class A state championship in the high jump and is a key member of the Wolves' state playoff softball team this season.

Katie Frerking went out for the Wesleyan track and field team on a Tuesday back in March.

A day later, she was competing in her first meet.

With her background in basketball, Frerking had a natural athletic ability to jump high.

"(Coach Candler Baxley) showed me how to do it at first and was like honestly, go jump over it," Frerking said. "I obviously had no form at all, I just jumped over it. I was really nervous, I had no idea what I was doing."

Frerking won her first meet and in just two months time, the Daily Post's Field Performer of the Year had gone from high jump novice to state champion.

"I didn't obviously expect to win state or anything, but it's fun," Frerking said.

Frerking won six of the nine meets she competed in this season, including the Region 5-A championship, the Class A West Sectional and the Class A state championship.

Frerking won the state title by clearing 5 feet, 6 inches, breaking Wesleyan great Anne Marie Armstrong's school record. It was also the fifth-best jump in the state all year.

"We've never had someone have a breakout season like that," said Baxley, Wesleyan's head track coach.

Frerking joined the track team last year to be around her friends during the spring. She was fresh off knee surgery, so she spent most of the time rehabbing her knee during practice and competed in just one meet.

When she came out for track this year, she was fresh off of leading the girls basketball team to its fifth straight state title. During the fall, she was the shortstop on the state runner-up softball team.

"We obviously wanted to have her out. She's a great athlete," Baxley said. "She's always doing something athletic and that carries over."

Frerking's results came immediately in her first practice, thanks to that natural leaping ability. She went into her first meet with not a lot of expectations and cleared 5-2. Little did she know that was pretty good.

"I was surprised by how effortless it was at the beginning of the year," Baxley said.

As the season went on, Frerking got better. She was clearing 5-4 at the start of April. Along the way, though, Frerking did show her inexperience at the high jump pit.

Frerking didn't go through all the different types of warmups most of competitors do before jumping. She made very few measurements and didn't have a pre-jump routine.

"I still kind of just go up there and jump," she said. "I guess the fact that I didn't have much form, I was just jumping off athleticism. I guess it was pretty easy to get better and better with form and learning how to do it."

Frerking also had to learn some of the rules the hard way. She didn't know you could run to the bar and not jump. She found that out by jumping off her wrong foot and landing on the bar. She also got disqualified for performing illegal jumps.

"I was always kind of looking around like 'What did I do?'" she said.

Frerking eventually picked up the subtleties of the sport and began to flourish. She won the region title by clearing 5-4.

"She just kept improving," Baxley said. "I told her after region if she can jump 5-6 she would have a chance to win it."

Frerking cleared 5-6 to win the West Sectional. She went to the state meet in Albany as the No. 1 seed and didn't disappoint. She beat out her teammate Hannah Hoskin for the state title and then added the school record with the jump of 5-6 .

The success grabbed the attention of college coaches, who sought out her parents about recruiting her. However, Frerking's college future is in basketball, where she already has a half-dozen scholarship offers.

Frerking was blown away by her success this year in just two months, but she's excited to see what she can do to defend her title next year.

"She wants to keep improving," Baxley said. "Her future is probably playing college basketball, but she's developed a passion for the sport."