Kelsie Belquist's senior track season looks different than expected

May 11—NEW ROCKFORD, N.D. — On Feb. 5, 2024, Kelsie Belquist stole the ball from the Medina/Pingree-Buchanan basketball team.

Seconds later when the New Rockford-Sheyenne senior was going in for a layup, she collapsed.

"I knew something was immediately wrong because I had never felt that type of pain before," Belquist said. "Kennison Azure had just torn her ACL, so when I felt the pain in my knee that was immediately what I was thinking. I remember having my forehead on the ground and cradling my leg and praying that it wasn't my ACL. My mind went straight to track, and the thought of not being able to run was devastating."

After the game, for the next week, Belquist's parents were trying to convince their track star of a daughter — and themselves — that the injury to her knee didn't have anything to do with her ACL.

"I have never had an injury to my legs besides some twisted ankles here and there (but) I just had this feeling it wasn't just a sprain," Belquist said. "For weeks I prepared for the worst but hoped for the best."

Unfortunately for the University of Nebraska track and field commit, the doctors confirmed her suspicions.

"When we got the news that I tore my ACL it was crushing," Belquist said. "I think the hardest part was seeing my dad upset. All the work we put in over the summer and in the off-season was crushed. We had so many plans and goals set. It was heartbreaking."

Belquist underwent surgery to reconstruct her ACL and a portion of her meniscus around eight weeks ago.

"I have told so many people that the worst thing about this injury is that you can't rush it," Belquist said. "No matter how good you feel you can't run or jump until you are cleared."

Before even undergoing surgery, Belquist did some prehab. Prehabilitation is a process that improves a patient's general health before surgery to reduce risk factors and improve postoperative outcomes. Programs often consist of nutritional supplementation, physical and cognitive exercises and stress reduction.

Belquist began physical therapy a few days after the surgery.

"My physical therapist is extremely happy with how much progress we have made," Belquist said. "After surgery, I was on crutches for about a week, then progressed to a brace on my right leg. We just recently passed the six-week mark, which means no more brace. I am slowly but surely making progress."

Belquist missing out on her senior track season means someone else will win the 2024 Class B 200, 400, 100 hurdles and 300 hurdles state titles for the first time since 2019.

During her career, Belquist has set the overall state record in the 300 hurdles with a time of 41.48 seconds and was ranked No. 1 in the state last year in the 200 meter dash with a time of 23.94 seconds. She was also No. 1 in the 400 with a time of 56.23. Her record in the 100 hurdles stands at 14.02 seconds.

"Not being able to compete and train has been extremely hard," Belquist said. "But I am taking this time to learn by watching and helping where I can. I am finding myself in more of a coach and/or motivator position. I love still getting to go to track meets and see all my friends.

"It's hard, but I believe everything happens for a reason," she said. "I want to be a track coach when I am older, and I can't help but think this was a sign to just take a step back and observe."

The 2024 Class B State Track and Field Meet is slated to be held May 23-25 at the MDU Resources Community Bowl in Bismarck.

After watching her teammates at State, Belquist said she is planning to make the move down to Nebraska in June to go to rehab and do some training down there. Some track camps will be happening that I will work at as well.

Belquist's scholarship with the Huskers is still intact.

"I am making the best out of the situation," Belquist said. "It could have been so much more serious and I'm just glad I am still here and get the opportunity to still compete hopefully in the winter. I have had to sort of change my perspective on everything. I can still be an inspiration without breaking records or "being fast." I am just super blessed and grateful to be here."