After a great cross country season last year, in which she finished second in Class 5A and third in the Class 5A 3200 meters outdoors, Ashling Osness of Long Beach thought she was on her way. But then her world came crashing down two days after the outdoor state meet.
While out riding on an ATV, as a passenger, a crash occurred. The ATV overturned on a slope and the driver was able to jump off but Ashling could not. The ATV rolled on top of her. Her injuries were extensive. She fractured her pelvis in five places, her first ribs, left clavicle. Her lower jaw was broken in two places, her upper jaw was also fractured. She suffered pulmonary bruising and a traumatic brain injury. She was in intenstive care at University Hospital in New Orleans for about a day and a half then was transferred to Children's Hospital, also in New Orleans, where surgery was performed.
When she came home her physical therapy started. The home-care only gave her about 3 hours a week for treatment. But Ashling was not satisfied. With the help of her dad, her mom, and her sister, she was soon doing 4 to 6 hours a day of her own physical therapy. Her dad said they got the use of a zero gravity treadmill that took all the strain off of her pelvis but allowed her to condition. After 10 weeks of this rigorous program, she decided to strap on her shoes and run in a local 5K race. She ran a 25 minute 5k after all the pain and suffering . According to Ashling the only pain she really felt was the good pain of muscular action.
Ashling on the left after the 3200 Meter run at State.
Throughout all of this her team and her coach was truly supportive. They visited her in the hospital in New Orleans. The team and her coach, Olan Welch, were with her through the physical therapy. But it was when she returned to school and started training that the support from her coach and teammates really mattered. Ashling says her team supports each other every day, on the course as well as outside of school. They encourage each other to step up not just in athletics but in all aspects of life. Coach Welch says that the team support of each other is a large part of their success. He says he monitors their running and can tell when outside influences are affecting the teams growth. Ashling says it is amazing that Coach knows when to push her and when to tell her to back off in her training.
Her goals for the season are to finish in the top ten at state and to run as close to her teammate, Brooklyn Biancamano, as possible. She intends to help her team, Long Beach, win state. She wants to enjoy running for herself and her team. Ashling's advice to every runner out there is "to never give up, even in the face of adversity; for runners to realize that they can overcome anything with hard work and support."