Mattheyer jumps onto scene at Ellis
By CONOR NICHOLL
ELLIS — Ashley Mattheyer had never competed in track until her seventh grade year for Ellis’ junior high team. Then, she started placing first in her events, including a career-best 16 foot, 3 inches in the long jump, a strong mark for any high school girl. Mattheyer also cleared 5-2 in the high jump, which normally places at the high school state meet.
“It was something that I wanted to keep doing since I was going good,” Mattheyer said.
Butch Hayes, Ellis High School’s assistant coach/sprints and jumps, noticed the junior high talent and then saw Mattheyer display a strong stride in her running events in the first several weeks of preseason track practice this spring.
“There wasn’t very many times she got beat — in fact, I think she may have went undefeated in a couple of her (junior high) events,” Hayes said.
Last Tuesday, Mattheyer displayed her natural abilities in her first high school track meet, the Ellis Invitational. She and sophomore standout Alexcia Deutscher paced the Railers to the team championship.
Currently, Deutscher and Mattheyer each compete in the high jump, long jump and 200. Mattheyer does the 400, and Deutscher runs the 100, though Deutscher’s events could change.
“Pretty much everything, she pushes me for sure,” Mattheyer said.
At Ellis, Deutscher won all four of her events, while Mattheyer earned the 400 title, was second in the long jump and 200 and third in the high jump. In the 200, Deutscher won in 27.44, while Mattheyer finished at 27.57.
“Right before this, she was like, ‘I want you right behind me,’ ” Mattheyer said. “I was for sure going to be there.”
Plainville sophomore Shania Werner, a returning state qualifier, finished third in 27.94. Mattheyer and Werner were running neck-and-neck and Mattheyer edged her at the end.
“Kept going strong,” she said.
In the 400, Mattheyer posted a 1:02.19 to win the event by more than a second. She had ran the 100 in the past and called the 400 “definitely not one of my strongest” events yet. Mattheyer labeled the long and high jumps her top events. Still, her 400 time would have placed eighth at the Class 2A state meet last season.
“She has a really good stride, and I was really impressed with her 400,” Ellis coach Jack Wolf said. “She will get better. Her 200 looked good.”
In the long jump, Mattheyer went 15-8 despite jumping from well behind the board. In the high jump, Mattheyer cleared 5-0; Deutscher won with a meet record of 5-5.
“I am really excited about her in that 400, I think that she can do some really good things in that,” Hayes said. “She did well in her long jump.”
Deutscher practiced the hurdles before the Ellis meet. Hayes joked with Deutscher that the hurdles are “her event.” Deutscher replied, “You think so?” The two have worked hurdles a little bit. Wolf said Deutscher already has the speed, but needs to hone the form.
“I know she has some interest in maybe running college track,” Hayes said. “I think she could be a pretty good hurdler. At the end of our workout each day, we’ve been going over the hurdles and just kind of seeing how she does.
“We might give her a shot this year to run in a race or two and see how she does,” he added. “It’s hard with her. She has four really good events.”
Another reason for the hurdles is the possible state schedule. Last spring, Deutscher took second in the 2A long jump with a mark of 16-6.25, the first event of the state track meet. A few hours later, Deutscher started in the high jump, but midway through the competition, Deutscher had to run the 200 prelims.
After the 200, Deutscher came back to high jump, but she was gassed.
She eventually tied for 12th with a mark of 4-8, six inches below her personal best from last year. Deutscher took fifth in the 100 and seventh in the 200.
“That’s something we will look at definitely,” Hayes said of the state schedule. “She kind of got caught there last year, and I think it cost her a gold medal in the high jump. I am just hoping that we won’t have another situation like that last year. I know we are not the only ones. It just seemed like there were a lot of conflicts last year.”