Redmond High coach Megan Stubbs joked that Tessa Fujisaki is so dedicated to running that she would “live on the track if you let her.”
It’s certainly a home away from home for the Mustang senior sprinter, who has laid down some stellar times in the 100- and 200-meter runs this season. At press time, she was third in the 3A state rankings in the 200 (25.79 seconds) and sixth in the 100 (12.54 seconds).
Fujisaki is simply grateful that she can finally return to the sport she loves. She was sidelined the last two seasons with a broken arm and a foot stress fracture, but has blown through those roadblocks and is making the most of her final season with the Mustangs.
“It’s really frustrating for any athlete to have to sit out and watch your teammates run, and just to think about where you could be in the race,” Fujisaki said prior to last week’s meet versus Lake Washington and Juanita at Juanita High. “But ultimately, I’ve definitely used that as a driving force this year.”
Fujisaki added that cheering on her teammates while injured was fun, but she’s glad to be back on the track and competing. She didn’t expect to be faster this year, but it’s happening and she’s rolling with it.
After breaking her left arm while arm wrestling with a guy friend, she underwent surgery and doctors placed an eight-inch titanium plate and 11 screws into her appendage.
Following surgery, Fujisaki did arm-straightening exercises every hour, nightly pushups and then added weight work and running into the rehab mix.
“It’s crazy — I can do 10 pullups now, and I never thought I would ever be able to do that,” she said with a laugh. “It’s been an interesting process. I knew as soon as I started doing those exercises every hour, I knew that was a start and I had to just keep building on that.”
Following her 100 victory — in 12.57 — at Juanita, Fujisaki exited the track and asked the Reporter to thank her family and Redmond coach Pete Whitmore for helping her overcome her injuries and get running again.
Fujisaki, who started running in seventh grade and also plays soccer, noted that she has tunnel vision when the starting gun goes off and her feet and arms start moving.
“I just only focus on myself and just think about driving hard and going as fast as I can,” she said. “I take it one race at a time and don’t think about anything else.”
She’s always pushing herself, whether she’s well in the lead or if there’s a competitor nearby.
The key, she said, is to “keep competing and never mentally break down during the race or get frustrated.”
With state about a month away, Fujisaki is motivated to qualify for the premiere event. She made it to state in the 4×200-meter relay as a freshman, before the injuries came. Now she’s back and ready to make an impact in the sprints.
“Tessa is super self-motivated, you never have to tell her to do anything twice,” Stubbs said. “She’s having amazing times. She’s just a really humble, really kind kid, too, and a great student. It’s a pleasure to coach (her).”