Polson High School distance and cross country runner Bea Frissell has always searched for the internal motivation that has allowed her to become a premier runner in the state of Montana, and a top-tier student.
Frissell finished one of the most decorated running careers in Polson High School history and capped her career in her final run ending in a spot she has become familiar with: first place.
Setting personal records in both the 1,600-meter and 3,200-meter distance events, Frissell capped her Lady Pirate career eclipsing her previous times in both.
Frissell recorded a time of 5:00.10 in the 1,600, and 10:47.33 in the 3,200, both personal records, and both enough to capture first place in the Montana High School Association Class A state meet at Laurel Sports Complex at Laurel High School.
Staying motivated wasn’t always easy.
Last year during her junior year, Frissell admitted to struggling to stay motivated.
“Everyone has their moments, and I didn’t have quite as much motivation last year,” Frissell said. “I was under so much stress with school, and I wasn’t having as much fun on the track team in general. Matt Seeley helped me stay motivated and much more this year, and the people I enjoy being around (on my team) made running a lot easier.”
Mulling over options
With several collegiate options, Frissell knew there was one she was dead set on: the University of Montana.
“I was looking at Portland State pretty seriously as well as Montana State, and I looked at Wyoming for a little bit, but it came down to what I could afford financially,” Frissell said. “I wasn’t able to go outside the state, and that kept me from looking at other places because I couldn’t afford many options.”
There may have been another reason Frissell chose to stay close to home.
“I’ve always really loved the culture at the University of Montana there,” Frissell said. “I love Montana, and you get to walk outside your door and hike. It’s just a beautiful place.”
Being able to balance athletics and school hasn’t always come naturally, Frissell said.
“I would get better at balancing (the two) as I got older,” Frissell said. “I think back during my freshman year, and I struggled to prepare for a test and a track meet. Then, I might have a soccer game the same day. I missed a ton of school, and I had to learn how to stay caught up and communicate with my teachers. It is because of their cooperation that I haven’t had to sacrifice as much as I would have otherwise.”
Frissell credits the support of the Polson running community, her coaching staff, parents and the Polson faculty towards keeping her motivated with achieving her goals.
A change of heart
In middle school, Frissell’s focus wasn’t running because it was soccer, another sport Frissell excelled in.
Many Polson fans have speculated that if Frissell were present on the 2016 soccer team that might have been enough to overhaul Billings Central, a team Polson lost to in a shootout in the semifinals of the 2016 MHSA Class A semifinals.
The Lady Pirates’ running team, and the chasing of records after practically owning the Polson girls record book provided too much motivation for Frissell, and her passion for soccer translated into distance running during her freshman year.
“Oh gosh, my favorite sport wasn’t running long distance in middle school,” Frissell admitted. “I was so focused on soccer that I never really thought about running long distance and that it would become my thing. I had no idea I would get those records in high school.”
Frissell, who admitted she enjoyed soccer more than running, didn’t think that trend would change.
“Soccer I would say had my heart,” Frissell said.
During Frissell’s freshman year as a Lady Pirates, her passion for soccer began to shift more towards cross country and distance running.
“I remember looking up at times on the wall (as a freshman in high school) and breaking those records was not part of the plan,” Frissell said. “I think I went out my freshman year of track, and I started to get faster, and started improving.”
During the top-10 race during Frissell’s freshman year, she realized her goals of becoming part of the Polson record book could come to fruition.
“I think during my freshman year of track, I started to get faster and started improving,” Frissell said. “The one-mile time was the first one through my freshman year in track in the top 10 and I was super, super close. I was within a second. I looked at one of my coaches (distance track Rob Alfiero) and said, ‘why did you not tell me I was that close to a school record,’ and he looked at me and said, ‘you’ll get it next time.’”
Early in her high school career, Frissell wavered with the two passions of soccer and running, but her coach Matt Seeley and his daughter Malia Seeley would eventually encourage Frissell to harness her natural talent for running.
“Seeley is just such an amazing coach, and knew he could get me those times I wanted to achieve,” Frissell said. “I’ve been running for eight years now, and I think he’s helped a lot in my development as a runner to become a better runner because I wouldn’t say I am a natural runner for sure. He is a huge reason I’ve achieved so much. He’s very passionate about running and knows how to make running fun. He will joke around with the group, and that is one of the biggest reasons for my success as a runner. He made running fun.”
Back to the future
Frissell carried a 4.0 GPA and will head to the University of Montana, where she will take on her career as a distance runner. Frissell said she plans on majoring in ecological restoration and possibly choosing to study environmental law as a niche in law school in the future.
“You just have to stay focused in terms of being able to spend every free minute on homework, and also prioritizing my schedule with a daily planner,” Frissell said. “I’ve been doing this for four years now, and that helped me keep track of things and helped me stay focused on school work to maintain my 4.0 GPA. It has helped quite a bit because there were some hard times, but I think it’s possible for everyone.”