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Amery to Tokyo: Alicia Monson’s journey to the Olympics

Published: Aug. 5, 2021 at 10:04 PM CDT
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AMERY, Wis. (WEAU) - “I think it’s actually really special to come from a small town and now to be going to the Olympics,” said Alicia Monson, a 10,000m Olympian.

Amery, Wisconsin.

“It’s a great town. Great community. Everyone is friendly.”

Located in Polk County.

“We moved here just by chance and we stayed here by choice,” added Beth Monson, Alicia’s mom.

“I definitely have good memories of going to Ellie’s Ice cream shop,” Alicia reflected. “I remember my Freshman year we used to run/walk to Ellie’s and hangout, have some ice cream, and then go back.”

“Everyone is always rooting for each other’s kids and there to support them whether you have someone playing or not,” said Jay Monson, Alicia’s father.

A city pushing 3,000 residents is rooting for someone special in the 2020 Olympics-- 23 year old Alicia Monson, a first time Olympian representing in the US in the 10,000m race.

Her mom Beth Monson thinks back to when this all started.

“She did sixth grade because that’s the only sport they let her in,” Beth said. “My favorite picture of her is she is standing there after the race and she’s like ‘Here I am.’ she’s just a quiet skinny little girl and her three friends are standing behind her completely done.”

Talented from the very beginning, her dad Jay says strangers would comment on future possibilities.

“[People would say] ‘she’s going to go to the Olympics some day’ you just shrug it off. Yeah... yeah, she’s good,” Jay added.

“[She was} an incredible athlete from the beginning. The kindest, sweetest girl, [and] the most humble,” said Kelsey Faschingbauer-Boissy, Alicia’s high school track coach.

From middle school to high school, Alicia continued to get better bouncing back from a torn ACL her Senior year.

“She had less than a month [of the season remaining after returning from her injury,]” Faschingbauer-Boissy reflected. “She competed in I think four races in three weeks and went to state and was state champion in the two mile.”

While Alicia transformed from a Warrior to a Badger, her success remained unchanged. She was recognized as the 2019 Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.

Her parents traveled to as many meets as possible, bringing Amery along.

“I would run through the cross country meets with my Facebook live camera and people from town caught on and started watching,” Beth explained.

The delay of the 2020 games allowed Alicia to graduate from UW-Madison last December and work toward the unknown.

Now a professional athlete--it’s all a numbers game.

“This is her fulltime job and it’s not just a few hours of workout,” Beth said. “She considers it a 24 hour job.”

Alicia runs 80 miles a week, with at least two additional workouts and one long run every seven days.

Before she was Tokyo bound, Alicia ran in Eugene for the Olympic trials, where racing in the heat was no easy feat.

“When you’re running a 10K you are out there for like 30 minutes running as hard as you can,” Alicia said.

Her Olympic Trial race was moved from night to morning to combat the Oregon heat.

Alicia ultimately finished third crossing the line at 31 minutes and 18.55 seconds.

“You could see her final lap down the stretch to the finish line that her legs were not regular Alicia,” Beth said. “I just wanted to go and grab her and hold her up.”

“I don’t even remember well the last couple laps of the race,” Alicia said. “I had heat exhaustion and then they took me to the medical tent my body was already exhausted, that once they put me in the ice bath I went hypothermic.”

Alicia says the intensity of the trials prepared her mentally for Tokyo.

While recovering in the hospital, encouragement came flooding in from her small town.

“In her old meets when she would win, I would always like to lift her up, so after she qualified I sent her a little message that I was lifting her up in spirit,” Faschingbauer-Boissy added.

“One guy texted and said ‘Yeah, Father Jean made a mention of it before mass started and the congregation cheered,’” Jay explained.

From signs, to t-shirts, and even chalk-- the city is fired up.

“People from Amery can see where I’ve come from and that some small part of the town is able to go to Tokyo,” said Alicia.

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