Bridget Franek is one race away from becoming an Olympian.

Franek, a 2006 Crestwood High School graduate, is excited about the opportunity to realize a dream by qualifying for the 2012 Summer Olympics in London as a member of the United States track and field team.

She will run tonight in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase final at the U.S. Olympic Trials at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.

“It is a pretty cool thing to be here in the position that I am in,” Franek said by telephone. “It is something I have wanted for a really long time.

“I definitely don’t take it for granted. I have seen so many people that wanted it just as bad I as I do, and for whatever reason they have had their path blocked due to injury or something else. I really feel fortunate that I am healthy and I feel very prepared.”

Franek, a 2010 Penn State graduate who holds a kinesiology degree, will run at approximately 7:45 tonight. The meet is being televised live on the NBC Sports Network.

Franek, 24, has finished with multiple times under the U.S. Olympic Trials qualifying standard of 9 minutes, 43 seconds at different meets in the 3,000 steeplechase within the past 14 months, but she still must finish in the top three tonight to advance to the Olympics.

Emma Coburn enters tonight’s final with the top preliminary time from Monday with a 9:43.19. Franek ran 9:44.05 Monday. Both runners won their respective heat.

“My Olympic dream didn’t really come until college in my junior year when I made the world championships team,” Franek said. “At that point, I was like ‘Wow, I am competing with the best of the best and I am so young that by the time the Olympics come around I could be in the running to make it.’?”

Franek won a Division I state title in high school as a junior in 2005 in the 1,600 and then won four Division II state titles as a senior in 2006 in the 800, 1,600, 3,200 and 3,200 relay. She also won the 3,000 steeplechase NCAA Division I title in 2010.

Franek is affiliated with the Nike Oregon Track Club Elite.

Michael Beaven can be reached at 330-996-3829 or Read the high school blog at Follow him on Twitter at and on Facebook at