Lauren Peters has always had a knack for separating herself from other runners.
She left a lot of athletes behind in her stellar track and cross-country career at Freedom, and the same goes for school records.
The talented mid-distance runner rewrote the Irish’s girls’ track record book and will depart for the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee as the school record holder in the 400- and 800-meter runs. She was also a part of Freedom’s school-record 800- and 3,200-meter relay teams.
With Peters leading the way, Freedom won the Eastern Valley Conference girls’ track title and tied for 12th at the WIAA Division 2 state meet.
Peters closed out her distinguished running career by claiming bronze medals in both the 400 and 800 at the WIAA state meet. She also competed on Freedom’s 1,600 relay team.
Peters was a four-time WIAA state meet qualifier and is Post-Crescent Media’s girls’ track athlete of the year.
Q: You won couple of bronze medals at your final WIAA state meet. How do you assess your season?
A: “I was happy with it, but wish I could have finished off with a state title. I was able to PR in a bunch of events, and set a few schools records and I was just happy that I got to run with my team. We had great team that won the conference title.”
Q: You also got to run a couple relays with your younger sister, Meghan. What was that like?
A: “It was really cool. I never thought I’d get a chance to run with her. She’s more of a sprinter and I’m more of a distance runner. We were able to break the school record in the four-by-two and that was pretty cool. Putting that relay together and running with her my senior year was a lot of fun. I never thought I’d run a sprint relay.”
Q: You graduated holding school records in four events and also hold the conference record in the 400. How does it feel to leave behind a legacy like that?
A: “Oh, it feels great, especially the four-by-two (800-meter) relay, because I did it with my sister.”
Q: Your older brother, Nathan, was also a track and football star at Freedom. Did your siblings in track push you to a higher level?
A: “Oh yeah, we definitely pushed each other a lot. But I don’t know if we had a big sibling rivalry or anything.”
Q: Have you and Meghan, a sprinter, ever raced?
A: “We raced against each other at kind of a fun meet and I beat her in the 200. She was kind of mad about that.”
Q: Were your parents runners in high school?
A: “I don’t think either of them had a big athletic background. My mom played some basketball, but she wasn’t a big runner and neither was my dad.”
Q: You set school records in the 400 and 800. What’s your better race?
A: “I’d say the 800. I’ve run it the most in high school and it just kind of clicked for me. I like middle distance a lot. I like the 400 and 800 in that neither is too long. It allows me to use my natural speed a little more.”
Q: Freedom has always had a strong track and field program. What makes the program so formidable?
A: “Definitely the coaches. They play a big part in it. They’re dedicated and know what they’re doing: Thain Jones on the boys’ side, and Jill Joly and Dean Aerts. They’re incredible. They always want the best for us and know how to push us.”
Q: You were also part of a Freedom cross country team that went to the state meet, and you finished eighth individually in Division 2. How do cross-country and track compare?
A: “Cross country is just one big race. Once you run, you’re done. In track, if you’re running multiple events that day, it can be kind of difficult. If you run a hard triple or a double like the four-eight combo where you run the 400 and come back and run the 800, it can be tough. Track is definitely more demanding, both mentally and physically.”
Q: When did you start running competitively?
A: “I started running in middle school. I joined the cross country team in sixth grade and our coach, Mr. Maxwell, was so nice. He was real motivating and goofy and kept us moving. I wasn’t real good at volleyball or any other sport. I wasn’t even thinking about playing volleyball, so I figured I might as well run cross country. Then, I ran track in the spring, and I liked both sports.”
Q: You were an honors student at Freedom, graduating with a 3.8 grade-point average. How were you able to balance athletics and academics so well?
A: “I just made sure that I stayed disciplined and self-motivated and stuck to it. I just kept telling myself how important that academics were. Sports are important too, but I always made sure I was doing well in the classroom.”
Q: You’re going to run both track and cross country at UW-Milwaukee next season. What’s your thoughts on that upcoming challenge?
A: “I think I’m going to be a very busy girl, that’s for sure. But in high school I got used to balancing sports and academics. They have a great staff there that will help me out with everything. “
Q: Have you settled on a major yet at UW-Milwaukee?
A: “I’m still a little undecided, but think I’m going to study something in the health science area.”
Q: What about UW-Milwaukee appealed to you?
A: “I like that it’s not too far from home, but it’s not too close. A lot of people recommended it to me. I visited there on my way home from another college visit. I just liked the campus and the coaches. I felt it was a great fit.”
Q: What are you going to miss about Freedom athletics?
A: “You have a sports family at Freedom and you build bonds with everyone. I’ll miss that.”
Q: You made it to La Crosse for the state track meet all four years. How do you describe that meet?
A: “It’s so intense, with so many people there. The atmosphere is crazy. It’s awesome.”
Food: Corn dogs.
Movie: “White Chicks”
TV show: “Grey’s Anatomy”
Musical group-artist: “I like all kinds of music. I don’t know if I have a favorite.”
Hobbies outside running: “Hanging out with family and friends, watching Netflix.”
Favorite class at Freedom: “Anatomy.”
— Tim Froberg: 920-993-1000, ext. 423, or firstname.lastname@example.org; on Twitter @twfroberg
Year in school: Graduated senior.
Family: Father, Randy; mother, Jackie; brother, Nathan; sister, Meghan.
Notable: Finished third at the WIAA Division 2 state meet in both the 400 and 800-meter runs. Also competed at state on Freedom’s 1,600 relay. Was also a sectional champion in the 400.