Injury, outbreak leads to long layoff for Bangor's Ashlie Lockington
This spring was supposed to be a rebirth of sorts for Bangor graduate Ashlie Lockington.
The high school track standout was looking forward to her first sports season in better than a year as a freshman on the Winona State University track and field team.
Lockington, a talented three-sport athlete, suffered a serious knee injury during her senior season in basketball.
A torn ACL required surgery and sidelined Lockington for the remainder of the hoops season and her entire senior season in track and field.
"It was devastating because you don't get the closure you want - the chance to do what you love one more time. You just want to be able to compete that one last time," she said. "My dad told me to always give 100 percent because you never know which time will be your last. He was right - it was really devastating."
While Lockington missed out on her senior season, she had already made her mark on history at Bangor.
She earned four varsity letters in volleyball and played on a pair of regional championship teams for the Lady Cardinals.
A four-year starter in basketball, Lockington was a key member of the team that qualified for state her sophomore season and captured a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Division 5 state championship in 2018.
Bangor also won four straight Scenic Bluffs Conference championships during the four years Lockington was a starter on the team.
While she excelled on the hardwood in volleyball and basketball, Lockington's star shined brightest on the oval.
She won a WIAA Division 3 state title in the triple jump as a freshman and was a member of the 400-meter relay team that finished fourth at state.
As a sophomore, Lockington finished runner-up in the triple jump at state and was a member of the 800-meter and 1,600-meter relay teams that finished fourth and the 400-meter relay team that earned fifth.
She won another individual state title in the triple jump as a junior, earned a gold medal on the Lady Cardinals' state championship 800-meter relay team and a silver medal on Bangor's 400-meter relay team.
In three seasons, Lockington earned nine medals at state, including three gold and two silver.
In addition, she captured nine Scenic Bluffs Conference titles and three runner-up finishes.
As a freshman, Lockington won the 400-meter dash at the SBC championship meet and finished runner-up in the 100 and 200-meter dash and the triple jump.
She turned in sweeps over her next two seasons, winning the 100, 200 and 400-meter dash and the long jump as a sophomore and capturing first in the 100, 200 and 400-meter dash and triple jump as a junior.
Those accomplishments landed Lockington a track scholarship to Winona State - and a chance to make up for a lost senior season.
"It gave me hope that I still had four more years to do what I love to do," she said. "It helped me stay positive knowing I had four more years to get healthy and to get better. It was the one big thing that made me stay positive."
Lockington was off to a good start during WSU's indoor season this winter.
She competed in the 55, 60 and 200-meter sprints in five indoor meets and was practicing the triple jump for the 2020 outdoor season.
Lockington showed steady improvement, turning in season-best times in all five meets.
But as WSU was about to get its outdoor season underway, college sports across the country were canceled due to the COVID-19 outbreak, leaving Lockington to face the prospect of another lost season.
"That also was a tough moment," she said.
"My plan was to start triple jumping during the outdoor season. My doctor suggested I wait until the outdoor season, so I was excited because the outdoor season was less than a month away," continued Lockington. "Just to hear that I would have to wait another year made me even more anxious than before. I was anxious to compete, but the good part is that I get some extra time to build my strength back and to build the confidence to be able to jump again."
The NCAA has decided to grant another year of eligibility to collegiate athletes impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, meaning Lockington still has four years to compete.
She in unsure, however, if she will take advantage of the opportunity.
"They give you the option if you want to stay for a fifth year," Lockington offered.
"I haven't officially decided yet, but I'm leaning toward not using that extra year of eligibility, because my degree is a four-year program," she added. "It's all up in the air right now."
For the time being, Lockington will continue to work hard for when she is finally able to compete again.
"My coaches have been sending out what we would be doing for weekly practices. I go to the Bangor track and do workouts every day," she said.
"I'm training hard so I don't get behind and so I can pick up where I left off. I plan on training a lot over the summer in my free time when I'm not working."
While she has another year to wait before her track career is back to normal, Lockington said her approach will remain the same.
"By the time I actually get to jump again and have an outdoor season, it will have been three years since I competed," said Lockington.
"I hope to keep working hard and doing what I did last year. I have to be hopeful and keep positive - I still have three more years left," she continued.
"I'm very thankful and grateful, so I'll stay positive and hopeful that I will get my chance to jump again," added Lockington. "I just hope to start off slow, slowly progress and hopefully I can continue to get better each meet and work my way back to where I was during my junior year in high school."