Even in her first track meet in nearly two years, Ellis senior Alexcia Deutscher appears as if she didn’t miss a day.
Whether she is crossing the finish line or rising from a pit of sand, Deutscher is back on the track and picking up where she left off in the final meet of her sophomore season.
Though a star on the volleyball and basketball courts, Deutscher knew a thing or two about success in track and field. In two seasons, she maxed out her state qualifications, earning eight total. She earned three medals in each season, her best being a second-place finish in the long jump in 2013.
There would be no chance for her to qualify in 2015. A season-ending knee injury suffered in just the third game of the basketball season sidelined her for six months, not allowing her to return to sports until last summer after track already completed.
“It was pretty hard. I was still a track manager, still went out and helped the team. I sometimes would just start on the track and run with them to get my rehab in,” Deutscher said. “It was pretty hard, but I always thought, ‘It’s my junior year, I have one more year in me.’ It can’t be as bad as you think it is.”
With seven finishes in the top two through two meets in 2016, she is showing that there is little, if any, rust to be shed in search of her third trip to state.
“My first meet, I was pretty scared with all the nerves,” Deutscher said. “I can’t jump with my knee and everything, so you’ve just gotta get that mental thought out and give it your all.”
A state-qualifier in the long jump and high jump, her knee injury forced her to give up one of her field events. She opted to stick with the long jump, an event she has placed second and fourth in. She is also a force in Ellis’ 4x100 relay, serving as the team’s anchor.
Deutscher opened the season by winning the long jump at the 4th Annual La Crosse Invitational, beating out Plainville senior Shania Werner. The two flip-flopped Tuesday in Ellis and are part of a friendly rivalry between two expected contenders once they get to state.
“We usually see each other at most of our meets since we’re in the same league, so it’s either her or another Ellis girl that are going back-and-forth for first and second,” Deutscher said. “You just have to be confident each day because you might be jumping better that one day, then she could be jumping better the next day. It just depends how everybody is.”
In order to keep the possibility of qualifying in four events, she went outside of her comfort zone and picked up javelin. She has twice thrown further than 113 feet, only outdone by Washburn signee Makenna Fritts of Ness City in meets Deutscher competed in this season.
The success makes for an obvious reason for her to stick with the event, even if her thought process behind why she chose it is unconventional.
“I thought I could throw it since I played softball,” Deutscher said. “I’m like, ‘If I can throw a ball, I can probably throw a stick or something’. I just tried it and they were like, ‘Yeah, you’re gonna stick with it’. It’s better than probably running a 400 or something, so pick a field event instead of running more.”
She already has her future set as a basketball player at St. Mary in Leavenworth, but she enjoys the challenge of mastering a new event.
“I like it a lot more than other things,” Deutscher said. “I dropped high jump, so this is kinda like, ‘Oh, I should’ve done this when I was a freshman or sophomore’. … A lot of people told me, ‘You’re gonna get frustrated right away because you don’t know how to do it’, but it just takes some time. Of course I was frustrated and everything, but I actually enjoy it a lot. I look forward to the meets and getting to throw the jav.”
In 2014, Deutscher also advanced to state in the 100 hurdles and 200-meter dash. In addition to long jump and javelin, she has competed in the 4x100 and 100-meter dash, twice coming in just over 13 seconds. Ellis’ 4x100 earned gold at its home invitational Tuesday and, according to junior Ashley Mattheyer, Deutscher is a big reason.
“With Alexcia being back, we’re sometimes a little scared about her injury. I know she is, too,” Mattheyer said. “I knew she was gonna be just about as fast as she was last time. We’re glad that she was coming back with times and everything. We wanted to try her in relays, so we’re glad to be able to put her in there with the rest of us girls.”
As it goes for many track and field athletes when picking up new events, javelin did not come easy to Deutscher. Frustration has set in many times for the fierce competitor, but she’s pleased with the results thus far.
“It just takes a lot of time. You just have to be into it and give it your all, even though you’re new at it. Just giving it your all and practicing everyday,” Deutscher said. “It’s hard for me just to figure out how to transition my feet and everything, though I think I’m doing pretty good so far.”