Rhinelander's Alayna Franson signs with UW-MilwaukeeSubmitted: 04/11/2018
Story By Mark Spillane

Rhinelander's Alayna Franson signs with UW-Milwaukee
RHINELANDER - More than 200,000 female high school students participate in cross country across the United States. Less than three-percent of those athletes go on to compete at a Division I level.

"It's been a dream of mine ever since 6th grade when I started cross country," said Rhinelander senior Alayna Franson.

Now, that dream is reality, as Franson will head to UW-Milwaukee to continue her impressive cross country career.

Different schools wanted her, [saying] 'hey we'd love to have Alayna come run [for us]' and some coaches were just relentless after her," said Rhinelander Cross Country Head Coach MJ Laggis.

That's because Franson is a three-time state qualifier and finished 11th in the Division 2 state race last year.

She says her first state appearance in 2014 is what gave her the confidence to chase her dream.

"It was kind of the first time making my own name for myself and I really enjoyed the process too," said Franson.

But cross country isn't the only sport where Franson has made a name for herself. She's the defending Great Northern Conference offensive player of the year in soccer.

She also used her athleticism to earn an All-Conference Honorable Mention in basketball.

"She's the only kid I've ever had, where if we messed up and had to do some running or extra running, she was excited for it while the rest of her teammates would be pretty upset," said Rhinelander Head Basketball Coach Ryan Clark.

That work ethic is part of what helped Franson succeed, and part of what her coaches will miss in the fall.

"When we start cross country, it's going to really set in. It's going to really hit us that she's gone because she's been the backbone of our program," said Laggis.

As she works to become the backbone of a new program, Franson's family is happy she can do it relatively close to home.

"We're looking forward to putting some miles on the car over the next couple of years," said Alayna's dad Kyle Franson.

While Wednesday's signing opens a new chapter, it closes another one for the Franson family.

As the last of three kids to go through Rhinelander High School, Alayna's signing served as a reminder that life won't ever be exactly the way it is right now.

"Bittersweet day, emotional, [but] it's a good day," said Kyle Franson.

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