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Thousand Oaks' Joerger named The Star's Girls Scholar-Athlete of Year

Published by
Scott Joerger   Jun 30th 2012, 10:43pm

Thousand Oaks' Joerger named The Star's Girls Scholar-Athlete of Year

Joerger led the pack in academics, sportsmanship


The Star's girls scholar athlete Thousand Oaks High's Melanie Joerger.


The Star's girls scholar athlete Thousand Oaks High's Melanie Joerger.

Melanie Joerger had a decision to make.

She saw the girl ahead of her slip and fall to the track at the CIF prelims at Mount San Antonio College.

Joerger could have passed the Moorpark High runner but instead slowed up, waited until she got back on and allowed her to finish ahead of her.

A individual berth in the CIF Finals meet lay in the balance, and Joerger figured out in her mind that Thousand Oaks High had already done enough to advance as a team.

Joerger made the decision to allow the Moorpark runner to gain the last individual spot for the CIF Finals.

"I was thinking for a while," said Joerger, who spent four years running for Thousand Oaks. "I could see her in the distance and I knew that if I caught up to her that I wouldn't pass her because I didn't need to."

Joerger's quick thinking on the course carried over to the classroom. Her hard work resulted in a 4.54 GPA and has earned her The Star's Girls Scholar-Athlete Award. She will be attending Loyola Marymount this fall.

Joerger is following in her brother's footsteps. Kevin Joerger won The Star Boys Scholar-Athlete Award two years ago.

"My brother always had straight A's and so I always strived to be like him," Melanie Joerger said. "In high school, I really figured out how to study and how to get my grades and keep them high."

The CIF track meet illustrated Joerger's smarts and athletic prowess.

Her coach, Keena Carstensen, was at the finish line and saw the Moorpark runner stumble and Joerger slow down. As a coach, Carstensen emphasizes sportsmanship.

"It made me feel really good as a coach," she said. "Winning is great, but when you see your kids have good sportsmanship, then that's just icing on the cake."

Carstensen coached Joerger all four years between cross country and track and field. She saw Joerger's aptitude for academics, particularly in math that lead to the nickname "Numbers."

"She not only knows all of her stats," Carstensen said, "she knows the girls on the team's stats, the opposing girls team's stats, the Southern Section's."

Joerger's final cross country season proved challenging. She started strong but came down with mononucleosis midway through the year and was never able to fully regain her top form until the season ended.

The Star's girls scholar athlete Thousand Oaks High's Melanie Joerger.

"I could still run," she said. "I wasn't always first on the team anymore but I was still able to contribute."

For a runner who's so competitive and loves pushing herself, it was a challenge being less than 100 percent.

"It was really difficult," Joerger said. "By state, I was so tired of not being able to run like how I should have been able to. But I had to keep running for the team."

It proved worthwhile with Thousand Oaks making state for the first time during her high school career. The Lancers finished seventh.

Joerger, who made state as an individual her junior year, found it much more rewarding being there with her teammates.

"It was a lot more fun," she said. "It's not that fun being on the starting line by yourself. It's a lot more scary. But it's nice to have your team there."

Joerger earned first-team all-Marmonte League honors in cross country and track.

She began running in the sixth grade, and initially started with faster races, including the 100 and 200 meters. Joerger took seventh grade off before being talked into running by friends of her brother who were on the Thousand Oaks cross country team.

Once Joerger started high school, her competitive nature stook over.

"I started off not that fast on my team," Joerger said. "I saw the varsity team and I just really wanted to be there. I just worked really hard starting in freshmen-sophomore year so it was already in me to work hard."

Joerger ran six or seven days a week, averaging 40 miles.

Her brother, who runs for Loyola Marymount, introduced her to the school. The more she learned about the college the more she loved it and wanted to go.

"He got me into running in the first place," Joerger said. "He was always really good and I wanted to be better than him."

Carstensen said Joerger has the potential to continue growing as a runner at Loyola Marymount. The heavy workload that comes with balancing distance running and academics can be challenging for students, but Carstensen believes Joerger will handle it gracefully.

"That determination is going to carry her on into the collegiate level of running," Carstensen said. "She is not afraid of hard work. She is going to be able to balance being a collegiate athlete and a student."

Read the full article at: www.vcstar.com
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