Good day at Ellis
By CONOR NICHOLL
By CONOR NICHOLL
ELLIS — Ellis High School junior Jared Pfeifer has always worked hard, but knew he needed to up his weightlifting workouts. After wrestling season ended with a state tournament appearance, Pfeifer started to put in more time.
He quickly gained approximately six pounds and looked much stronger physically than last spring. Railroader sophomore Alexcia Deutscher also had a similar increase.
“It all goes back to work ethic, and really wanting to get better,” Ellis coach Jack Wolf said. “You can tell those that don’t go in the weight room, don’t really improve a lot from last year to the next year. It helps them.”
On a beautiful weather day, Pfeifer and Deutscher, Ellis’ top track athletes in 2013, enjoyed a new personal best in one individual event and led the Railers in the season-opening Ellis Invitational on Tuesday.
“The temperature was nice, unlike it has been in practice the last week or so when it was windy and cold,” Wolf said. “It was a nice day. We couldn’t have asked for a nicer day to start our meet off with.”
Pfeifer had lept 20 feet, 11.75 inches in the long jump last season. Despite an ankle problem from a wrestling meet last weekend, Pfeifer went 21-0.5 on his second attempt and then a career-best 21-1 on his third jump to edge Victoria senior Connor Gagnon (20-11).
Pfeifer also ran on the two sprint relays, and in, an oddity, was the lone entrant in the 110 hurdles (16.39).
“It was pretty nice,” Pfeifer said. “I was working on that last year. I fell a quarter inch short. I felt proud that I got that.”
Pfeifer currently leads Class 2A by nearly a foot while Gagnon stands second in Class 1A, according to Kansas historian Carol Swenson’s performance lists.
“He was pretty excited about it,” said Butch Hayes, Ellis assistant coach/sprints and jumps. “He has been lifting hard in the weight room. He will lift after a track workout, and he is really focused this year. … He has bought into the weights, and that is what you have got to get these guys doing is buying into the weight program, and they are going to see improvements. He has definitely put the work in.”
Deutscher won all four of her events, the 100-meter dash (12.95), the 200-meter dash (27.44), high jump (meet record 5-5) and long jump (16-8). The long jump was two inches off her personal best.
“The weight room has really helped him out and Alexcia, too,” Wolf said.
Deutscher, currently No. 1 in 2A in the high jump, cleared 5-2 on her third and final attempt. Then, she made 5-4 and 5-5 on her first jumps. After 5-4, Deutscher walked over to Wolf at the nearby pole vault pit. The two discussed the next height, and decided to go to 5-5. After the clearance, Deutscher looked to break the school record of 5-6, but couldn’t clear it. Wolf said because of early season weather and some scheduling conflicts, the two set her step Monday night.
“Maybe one good day of work,” Wolf said.
Ellis freshman Ashley Mattheyer enjoyed a strong first meet with a victory in the 400 meters (1:02.19), second places to Deutscher in the 200 and long jump and third place in the high jump. They helped the Ellis girls win the seven-team meet with 135 points, three more than Hill City.
“I did good as a freshman,” Mattheyer said. “It is my first meet. It is kind of hard to follow Alexcia, but she definitely pushes me, so it’s good.”
On the boys’ side, Plainville took first with 156 points, 40 more than Ellis. Plainville boys graduated all of their state points off back-to-back Class 2A state champion teams, but added several new athletes, including seniors Hadley Gillum and Dylan Weisner and Kolt Newell, a Palco transfer.
Gillum is a standout basketball player, while Weisner is a state champion wrestler. Gillum won the discus (143-7), and Weisner collected a javelin title (138-0). Newell earned high jump (6-0) and triple jump (40-5) crowns.
“We have had a lot of success the last two years and honestly, I had asked Hadley and Dylan on numerous occasions to go out for track,” Plainville coach Norma Finnesy said. “I think they knew that this was it. They both have got some talent. They came out, and it’s worked out pretty well so far.”
WaKeeney-Trego senior Devon Ghumm, also an all-state football player, returned to the track, too. Ghumm had sat out last season, but won the shot put with a personal record (47-8.5), a mark that sits No. 2 in Class 2A.
“He decided pretty early on, being a senior that he was going to go back out this year,” coach Jeff Rhoden said.
“I think he regretted not going out last year after the first few weeks of the season, and then just went ahead and sat it out anyway. I also think that me coming in and taking over the basketball program there in December, January, building the rapport again with him, I think that helped him decide to come back out.”
Ghumm also took third in the 100 (12.12), a unique combination of events that he has done in the past.
“I think he is undersized for a shot putter, but a very strong kid,” Rhoden said. “Works hard in the weight room, and it pays off, and that helps him with his sprint speed. Last time he threw was a sophomore and he has matured a lot, and gained a lot in strength. Now we are back to working technique with him, trying to perfect his technique.”