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Medford’s Seidel aims to keep striding next year at UM-Duluth


After a high school career filled with team and individual success, Medford senior Franny Seidel has decided she hasn’t reached the finish line quite yet.

The Raiders’ distance running standout is moving on to the University of Minnesota-Duluth this fall, where she plans to continue competing as a walkon for the school’s women’s cross country and track programs. The Bulldogs compete in the 16-school NCAA Division II Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.

Seidel said the process of choosing a college didn’t really hinge on the athletic part of the equation, but it’s exciting how it all worked out.

“I looked at Eau Claire and Duluth,” she said. “Those were the only two colleges I really toured. I wasn’t really planning on running for Eau Claire, or running at all. But then I went to Duluth and I really liked the campus. My dad (Robby) and I have been in contact with the women’s head coach there (Laura Harmon). I really liked it there and once we decided on that, I had to see if I could get on the team. (Harmon) said yes.”

Seidel joins a young cross country team that placed fifth in the NSIC championships last October. The track team took sixth at the NSIC Indoor Championships in late February before the spring outdoor season was canceled. Harmon, an All-American runner at the University of Oregon in the mid-2000s, completed her second year as the women’s head track head coach and her first season as the cross country coach during the 2019-20 school year.

Competing in both sports is common for college distance runners.

“I’m excited now that we’re getting closer to it,” Seidel said. “I hope this whole coronavirus doesn’t mess anything up. Everything’s a little uncertain now with what’s going on. But the coach is starting to contact us more. Workouts are coming in. It’s getting exciting.”

There certainly were a lot of exciting times for Seidel in four falls and three springs of competition at Medford Area Senior High. In cross country, she was a three-time state qualifier with three topfi ve sectional finishes, a four-time All-Great Northern Conference first-team runner and a key member of Medford’s 2018 run to the WIAA Division 2 state championship.

In track and field, Seidel is on Medford’s record board as part of the Raiders’ sixth-place team at state last spring in the 4x800-meter relay. She was part of the fifth-place team in that event in 2018 and the eighth-place team in 2017. She took 10th in the state 3,200-meter run as a freshman. She was named the 2019 Great Northern Conference Girls Runner of the Year after winning the 3,200-meter run, taking second in the 1,600-meter run and helping the 4x800-meter team win its race.

“Franny Seidel I can say is the best female runner I have ever had the honor of coaching,” Medford cross country head coach Kevin Wellman said. “She came in as a freshman and immediately made an impact on the team. She pushed hard in practice, never settling for good enough. Franny encouraged the other runners, male and female, to push themselves to be better. She has an infectious attitude that makes everyone around her happier. She has been an anchor for both state qualifying teams and her hard work and determination made other runners better which allowed the team to beat tough competition to not only qualify for state but take a fourth place and a championship.”

“I’m really happy with my cross country and track career, winning state in cross, getting to the podium in track and getting a goal just about every year,” Seidel said. “I’m definitely excited to see how the team does. It’s sad to leave them, but I think we still have a couple good years left, maybe more than that with the people coming up. I definitely wanted to go for the two-mile school record (11:28) this year, so that’s kind of upsetting about missing track. Otherwise getting the 4x8 record, I’m happy with that.”

Most college cross country meets are 6,000-meter races compared to the 5,000-meter distances in high school, so that will be an adjustment.

“I’d definitely like to improve on my 5K times for those meets,” Seidel said. “I want to stay running in the 19s, maybe 18s for that instead of 20 minutes. For a 6K I’d like to be sub-28 minutes maybe. I definitely want to try to get a start on the team and have a good freshman season.”

During her high school cross country career, Seidel got as low as the 19:30s, including a 17th-place time of 19:39.8 in her final state meet last October and had a couple of sub-12 minute times last spring in track in the 3,200-meter run.

Seidel has her sights set on being a teacher.

“I’m going for social studies education,” she said. “I’ve just liked it. I’ve liked the teachers that I’ve had that taught that subject. I did a mentorship with Mr. Wellman. That was a lot of fun.”

“Franny will be great at Duluth,” said Wellman, who teaches eighth grade social studies at Medford Area Middle School. “She will work hard not because that is what her coach and the other runners want her to do but because she wants to be a great version of herself. She strived to improve as a runner, but she was also a great student who helped the girls team be one of the top academic teams in the state. So Franny is as smart as she is fast and she will excel at college.”