In hindsight, Molly Beckwith admits that she probably should have heeded the advice of Thomas Worthington High School girls track and field coach Nancy Beattie and concentrated on a track career.

In hindsight, Molly Beckwith admits that she probably should have heeded the advice of Thomas Worthington High School girls track and field coach Nancy Beattie and concentrated on a track career.

Instead, the 2005 Thomas graduate focused on soccer -- her favorite sport -- and earned a scholarship to Indiana University. But after undergoing her fourth soccer-related knee surgery, she decided to give up the sport and pursue a track career. Now, she dreams of competing in the 2012 Olympics in London.

"I should have listened to Nancy Beattie the first day of track practice when she said I should give up soccer," Beckwith said with a laugh. "But my dad always says everything happens for a reason. I gave soccer a try and it didn't work out, but now I'm back running track. It's worked out for the best."

Beckwith burst onto the high-school track scene as a freshman in 2002, setting program records in the 200 meters (24.7 seconds) and 400 (55.6) and placing second in the Division I state meet in the 200 (24.95). Her record in the 200 still stands, but her mark in the 400 was eclipsed by Aricka Rhodes (55.45) in 2008.

Despite her success, Beckwith opted to sit out the next two track seasons to focus on soccer. It was during that time that her knee troubles began. She tore the ACL in her right knee while playing for the Ohio Premier Club team in June 2003 and tore both the ACL and MCL in her left knee in August 2004. Then, in January 2005, she underwent her third surgery in 19 months to repair a partially torn meniscus in her right knee.

Two months after the third procedure, Beckwith decided to return to track for her senior season, primarily to get back in shape and help strengthen her knees. She essentially picked up where she had left off three years earlier, as she qualified for state in the 200, placing fifth in 25.35. Also at state that season, she teamed with Abby Kostecka, Joy Peterson and Rhodes to place fifth (1:40.79) in the 800 relay and seventh (program-record 48.79) in the 400 relay.

At season's end, though, Beckwith again walked away from the sport, spending the summer of 2005 preparing for her soccer career at Indiana. That fall as a freshman, she appeared in 17 of 19 games, scoring two goals and adding two assists as a forward.

Beckwith's knees, particularly her left one, bothered her throughout the season, however, and in March 2006, she underwent a procedure -- her fourth in less than three years -- to remove a buildup of scar tissue in her left knee.

"I had really, really bad patella tendinitis," she said. "Going up stairs, even walking around, was painful."

That's when Beckwith decided to end her soccer career, which meant she had to give up her scholarship.

"The doctors told me that every time I get hurt, it's harder to correct (the injury)," she said. "And if I kept playing, I would have more problems as I got older, so my parents and I came to the decision that it was best if I didn't play anymore."

Beckwith's desire to compete in athletics still burned, however, and her love for running had not diminished, so her sophomore year she decided to try out for Indiana's track team as a walk-on.

"I hadn't run track (in two years) and I ran only about half my senior year and I was 15 pounds heavier, so it was a pretty hard transition," she said. "I had a lot of training to do. It took a while to get back in shape. A soccer body and a track body are very different. But once I got in shape, the results came pretty quickly."

During the 2006-07 indoor season, Beckwith ran a team-best time of 1:32.69 in the 600 at the Big Ten Conference Championships, and posted season-best times of 57.84 in the 400 and 2:13.99 in the 800. Slowed by a bout with mononucleosis, she missed most of the outdoor season that spring, but ran a 2:14.7 in the 800 at the Big Ten meet, marking the Hoosiers' second-fastest time.

It was during her sophomore year that Beckwith began to realize her potential in the 800 -- an event she did not run in high school.

"Most people dread the 800," she said. "I actually think it's easier than the 400."

Beckwith, who earned a track scholarship after her first season in the program, continued to improve in the 800 during the 2007-08 season. During indoor, she set a program record with a time of 2:06.67. That spring, she ran a season-best 2:06.46 at Ohio State's Jesse Owens Classic and placed third (2:07.56) at the Big Ten meet.

Last season, Beckwith dropped her personal record in the 800 to 2:02.51, setting the mark at the Billy Hayes Invitational on May 8. She also placed fifth (2:04.31) at the NCAA Division I Midwest Regional held May 29-30 in Louisville, Ky., and advanced to the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships held June 10-13 in Fayetteville, Ark., where she was disqualified for straddling a line before cutting in front of other runners.

The disappointment of her performance at the NCAA outdoor meet was eased by the fact that she had qualified for the USA Outdoor Track & Field Championships held June 25-28 in Eugene, Ore., in the 800 as a result of her personal record. In a meet that featured professional runners who have competed internationally, she finished ninth (2:05.88) of 26 in a preliminary heat to advance to a semifinal heat, where she finished 11th (2:05.04) of 16.

"It was a really exciting meet," Beckwith said. "I had never been to a professional meet; I've never run against professionals. I felt like an underdog. It was a learning experience. I was really, really happy to make it past the quarterfinals."

Beckwith, an exercise science major who plans to go to graduate school and become a physical therapist, intends to run cross country for the first time this fall. At the conclusion of her college track career, she plans to train for the Olympic time trials, which will determine the U.S. track team for the 2012 Olympics in London. The time trials will be held in the spring of 2012 in Eugene, Ore.

"You only have to run a 2:04 (to be eligible for the Olympic time trials)," Beckwith said. "To possibly go to the Olympic trials is exciting."

Indiana women's track coach Ron Helmer believes Beckwith is capable of being an Olympian.

"You don't know what she can do," he said. "She's competed against people who will get there. If they can do it, she can, too. She can see that she's not that far away from where they are. A lot has to break her way, but I believe she ultimately will run a sub (2:00). And if you run a sub (2:00), you put yourself in position to make international teams. I've coached a bunch of 800 runners in my career, and I believe that something special is going on with her. She has set herself up to continue to grow.

"She's still relatively new to the sport at this level. She has done all this in 20 months. Most people don't run a 2:02 with just 20 months of solid training. When an athlete improves as rapidly as she has, it's exciting. Her consistency is phenomenal. She does not really have bad races."