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Track preview 2013 ... Ellis' Deutscher looks to cap stellar freshman season

By CONOR NICHOLL

cnicholl@dailynews.net

Alexcia Deutscher remembers the exact moment when sports started to become natural for her. When she was nine years old, Deutscher was thrown out of Hays recreation soccer game because she accidentally kicked a girl by being "too aggressive" on a ball in the air.

"But I think it's because the other coaches saw potential in me, so they were helping me at a young age," she said. "Ever since then, I have been competing in MAYB and then doing little track meets."

Years later, Deutscher is arguably already northwest Kansas' top all-around athlete as an Ellis High School freshman. She helped the Railroader volleyball team set a school record for wins and led the team in kills. In basketball, she collected Hays Daily News first team all-area honors, paced Ellis in scoring and rebounding, and helped the Railers tie the school mark for victories.

This weekend, Deutscher will cap an outstanding freshman season at the Class 2A state track and field meet at Wichita State University's Cessna Stadium. Deutscher qualified in the 100- and 200-meter dashes, high jump and long jump. She is seeded No. 1 in the high jump at 5 feet, 4 inches and has jumped around 16-8 to 16-10 virtually all year in the long jump. Deutscher believes she can get 17 feet.

"I am pretty nervous, because I am only a freshman and I am trying to reach my goal of going to state in something," Deutscher said.

She is among the state favorites in all four events, but will match up against Maranatha Academy sophomore Caroline Bingham in the sprints. Bingham won the 100 last year as Maranatha rolled to the team title; Maranatha is the heavy favorite to repeat. Deutscher has a goal to finish in the top four in each event.

"She will push me," Deutscher said. "I am not used to running behind people, and I think I will be chasing her down. That will be my motivation to catch up with her."

Ellis also qualified senior Megan Honas for the third straight year in the discus.

"I was really nervous, but I told myself the week before regionals that it wasn't going to be the last practice," Honas said.

Junior Kaleigh Soneson will go in the pole vault for the first time. She missed several meets earlier in the season because Ellis couldn't get her pole cleared. On Friday. Soneson cleared 8-0 but was in a three-way tie for the final two spots. She cleared 8-6 on a tiebreaker on her first attempt.

On the boys' side, sophomore Jared Pfeifer will participate in three events, the 110- and 300-meter hurdles and long jump in his second trip to state, while senior Luke Lohrmeyer will compete in the shot put for the first time.

Honas is seeded second in the discus after she threw 113-8. Last year, Honas threw 118-7 to take fifth at state. This year, the top 11 seeds are all within 15 feet. Ellis throwing coach Steve Erbert said there is "nobody outstanding" in this year's field.

"Top five girls, it's wide open," Erbert said. "It's going to be fun. It's going to be exciting."

Lohrmeyer has delivered some big throws, including a 47-4 on a foul two weeks ago in Hill City. However, he has had trouble staying in the ring. On his first throw of regionals, he threw 45-7. Then he went an inch further in finals for a personal best by two feet.

"He has the potential to go further than that," Erbert said.

Last year, Pfeifer took 15th out of prelims in the 300 and ran on the gold medal winning 400 relay. This year, all of the relay, save Pfeifer, has graduated. Pfeifer has moved into a bigger role and posted a strong spring.

"There is a little bit of pressure," Pfeifer said. "A lot of people look up to you."

In 2012, Pfeifer never cleared 20 feet in the long jump, but was often behind the board by a foot. He has jumped better this year, but has sometimes shown frustration when he can't get his step down.

"I just know that I can get on that board and get a little farther," he said.

Pfeifer went a personal best 20-11 last Friday and is seeded fifth entering state.

"I was scared he wasn't going to make finals at first," coach Jack Wolf said. "He really competed well."

Deutscher called basketball and track her two most favorite sports. After enjoying great success in junior high track, Deutscher kept the same four events in high school. So far, it's produced another great year for the talented freshman.

"I enjoy being at track meets and watching other people compete with me," Deutscher said. "I can notice stuff from them. I can pick up little details, how they jump, how they run differently from me and how that could help me in the future or at practice."