Frazee three-sport senior Paige Ziegler knows how to get over hurdles.
Ziegler came back last spring after tearing her ACL and missing a year of competition. She made a big return by placing at the state track meet.
This week, she added another milestone recording her 1,000th career point for the Hornets in a 59-20 basketball victory at Battle Lake Tuesday, Dec. 10.
“Pretty amazing since she sat out last year,” Hornets head coach Jason Reierson said.
The thought of reaching 1,000 points was something Ziegler was ready for two years ago. She and her dad computed her sophomore season stats to 54 points shy of the mark heading into last year.
“I knew it was coming,” said Ziegler. “I was going to get it in the first few games and I wanted to be the top scorer at Frazee and get 1,600 points. I could do that with two more seasons left.”
In an instant during summer ball that all changed with her knee injury.
“It definitely teaches you a lot,” said Ziegler. “I was always told by my dad never take anything for granted and I never really processed that because I hadn’t been hurt before.”
Frazee struggled through a two-win season without Ziegler and guard Paige Oswald, who has also missed significant time recuperating from injuries.
Both have been Heart O’ Lakes all-conference players and three-sport gamechangers in volleyball, basketball and track.
The healthy duo has the Hornets are off to a 4-1 start with wins over Lake Park-Audubon, Long Prairie-Grey Eagle, Menahga and the Battlers. Both have led Frazee in scoring during that run.
Injecting Ziegler and Oswald back into a lineup that really needed them has Frazee playing up-tempo and surprising teams in the early going.
“We’re fast-paced this year and we normally haven’t been,” said Ziegler. “Teams don’t expect that from us. We’re up in your face and we’re going to go run. We make teams tired and have gotten some respect from the HOL and we’re starting to make some noise. People are starting to notice us. That’s good, but we just have to stay focused and keep going with what we’re doing and it’s going to be a great season for us.”
Oswald is a key component running the point for Reierson’s club and Ziegler is a double-double threat every time she steps on the court.
She also has a new and distinct enthusiasm when she talks about playing. That comes from her time recuperating and the work put in to get back.
“I couldn’t walk. I had to learn everything new again,” she said. “It was very humbling and taught me so much. Always go hard because you really never know when it’s going to be your last time again.”
Her first post-injury competitive work came at the beginning of track season running 800s.
“It was not pretty,” she said. “I was so out of shape.”
Ziegler needed the distance to get back into running again and feeling competitive on the track. She worked her way back to exactly where she wanted to be.
“The second I hurdled again it was just great. It was the best feeling in the world,” she said. “That just pushed me even farther and I got more confident. The second I ran a full race I knew my knee was back to normal.”
Getting back to full speed took time. At the halfway mark of the track season she was nowhere near being all the way back.
Like basketball with Oswald, Ziegler has another teammate to push her.
Jaryn Johannsen is on the starting line staring at the same line of hurdles and both she and Ziegler were running for section titles and state qualifying.
I told my therapist, ‘I’m making it back to state track. I want to be back there.’” said Ziegler. “The second I got there that’s all that I wanted. I’m here for the prelims and I never expected to make it to the finals. I was just grateful I was there no matter what.”
Ziegler’s return to form earned her a remarkable third place finish in the state 100m hurdles. Johannsen put two Hornets in the finals finishing seventh overall.
“We’re a force to be reckoned with and I know that for sure,” said Ziegler.
That’s true about her teams whether it’s on the basketball court or the track.