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Mar. 2, 1998

by Brooke Warner
Sports Information Intern

Being one of the top recruited high school athletes in the country can beoverwhelming for the student being recruited, but for Virginia sophomoreFrances Warner took it all in stride. And a big stride it was.The 5’9″ middle distance runner came to Virginia after having one of themost successful carriers of any runner to come to the University. Aself-proclaimed “military brat” ,Warner claimed six state titles in threedifferent states during her track and cross country careers.

As s freshman in Kansas she captured the 800m and mile events in the KansasState meet. For her sophomore year, the Warner contingent moved on to NorthCarolina, where the second of four children won the state cross countrymeet as well as the indoor and outdoor miles. Next, the family moved toFort Drum, New York where the talented runner finished out her high schoolcareer by winning the mile as junior, and suffered a season-ending injuryat the famed Penn Relays.

“I ran well at the Penn Relays, but I pulled my quad running the 800meters,” she said. “I was in the best shape of my life, so it was verydisappointing.”

The injury did not deter any of the college coaches, as she was contactedby over 25 schools across the nation. Warner chose Virginia because of “thegood mixture of academics and athletics.” After visiting Wake Forest,Tulane, and Vanderbilt, the coaching staff at Virginia won her over.”I didn’t really look at Stanford hard core like a lot of other distancerunners do,” she said. “I kind of decided to focus on ACC schools more.”Warner finally boiled her decision down to two schools– Virginia and WakeForest. In the end she decided that being a Cavalier would make her thehappiest.

“I liked Virginia the most, and I didn’t want running to be my whole lifelike at other places I looked, plus the coaches here really seemed to knowwhat they are doing.”

Strong academics is something that is important to the star also; she wassaluditorian of her high school- Carthage Central in New York.While at Virginia, Warner has had little problem adjusting to the rigoroustraining nor the competitive academics. She has a 3.61 grade point average,while being one of the leaders in the 1996 cross country season.

“My cross country season went okay– I didn’t really know what to expectgoing into it,” she said. “I was pretty happy with it, although the end ofit was a little disappointing. Most of that came from being a freshman andnot being ready for real college competition.” She placed 11th in her firstcollegiate race (third for Virginia) and ran first for the team with athird place finish in the dual meet with Wake Forest. She also ran apersonal record of 17:49 in the Maryland Cross Country Open.And then disaster struck. During an interval work out over winter break,she suffered a serious injury. She stretched her illio-tibular band.”I could feel it pull during the work out and that night. Then the next dayI could run or even walk.”

Little did she know that this injury would lead to her red-shirting indoorand outdoor track at her freshman seasons as well as the cross countryseason of her sophomore year.

“I really don’t know why it took so long to heal- I tried everything.”Even seeing numerous doctors and specialists and trying every kind oftherapy available from pool workouts to cross training, nothing helped.”It turned out that what it really needed was time off,” she said.After a fall of intense therapy, Warner is finally back where she belongs-on the track. She just captured third place in the mile at the ACCTournament held in Blacksburg, where she ran a 4:55, a time that is fastenough to qualify her for the East Coast Athletic Athletic Conferencechampionships, to be held March 7 in Boston.

Warner is excited to be back running, and looks forward to doing evenbetter things on the outdoor track.

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