It certainly hasn't been easy on Clinton thrower Alex Laufenberg for her senior year.

Between the bad weather for outdoor track in the spring, some personal family losses and injury, life threw every obstacle at her that it could.

"It's been rough," Laufenberg said. "I kind of feel like I got my season stolen but I have definitely improved a lot."

Still, the Clinton senior persevered, making yet another state appearance on Thursday morning in the discus. Laufenberg threw 115-11 on her first attempt, and it ended up being her best throw of the day.

It landed her in 9th place overall, just short of medaling.

Still, top 10 in the state is nothing to be ashamed of, especially considering she found out she had tendinitis in her hip rotations just two weeks before the start of the season. She's been slowly working through that.

Does the last name sound familiar? That's because Alex is the little sister of Sydney Laufenberg, who was a state champion for the River Queens and a now two-time Missouri Valley Conference champion for the Illinois State Redbirds.

"Almost everybody compares us," Alex Laufenberg said. "It's a little frustrating and kind of hard on me because they have that expectation. The ones that are closest to me understand.

"I've kind of had the mindset from the beginning of I'm not my sister, I'm my own person. Whatever she did, that's her and I'm proud of her but I'm my own person."

You could see Sydney at a few high school meets this year, watching Alex and cheering her. That support is important to Alex. The knowledge that her big sister offers has helped Alex out in her own high school career, too.

"She's taught me a lot of what I learned this year," Laufenberg. "I wouldn't have been this far without her."

With the frustrating year, she has leaned a lot on her family.

"I have a pretty good fan base out at state," Laufenberg laughed, listing off the members of her family making the trip to Des Moines this weekend.

One of those is her father, Chris Laufenberg. There's no doubt you can see Chris watching the discus like a hawk.

"My dad does a good job of calming me down when I need to," Laufenberg said. "When I get in there I have all these different things going on in my head and he just tells me to find one thing. He says be calm, and one thing. It usually helps me get a decent throw out."

Even though she missed medaling this year, she still has earned personal bests and had a career to be remembered as a River Queen. She and her sister were originally students a Prince of Peace, but transferred when they realized how powerful they could be as track and field athletes.

She certainly doesn't regret it.

"I'm so happy we switched," Laufenberg said. "I'm not saying anything bad about Prince of Peace because I'm so glad I went there as long as I did. The opportunity here is just amazing."

Her hard work as paid off in her prep career, but she's not done yet. She hasn't officially signed yet, but she has an idea.

"I'm not signed, but the Illinois State coach and I are pretty close," Laufenberg said.

She continues to follow in her sister's footsteps and if she has proven anything throughout high school, it's that Alex Laufenberg certainly has more room to grow. The powerful Illinois State track and field team could be the perfect place for her to blossom.

Plus, if she's learned anything this season, it's that she will always have that family support to back her up.