The early Christmas present wasn’t wrapped and it didn’t have a fancy bow, but it was exactly what Jacquelyne Leffler wanted.
Last week the Americus native was cleared to return to the Kansas State track team and can resume competition when indoor season begins next month.
Leffler, a Northern Heights High School four-time Class 3A State champion in both the discus and the shot put, has been working out the past week in Emporia before heading back to Manhattan Thursday to resume training in preparation for her first meet Jan. 21.
Leffler suffered a foot injury last season. She said the injury is sort of like the ACL in a knee, because it was the ligament that held everything together.
“I hurt it Spring Break, but decided to wait and compete in the hammer throw at the Big 12 championship,” Leffler said. “I had surgery the day after Big 12’s. For the following three months I was in a boot and had crutches.”
She has been continuing the rehabilitation process through daily exercises. The orthopedic surgeon deemed the recovery far enough along that he cleared Leffler to compete.
Leffler had a record-smashing career at Northern Heights from 2005 to 2008. She was just the second girl in Kansas history to win four straight titles in the shot put and discus. She holds the Class 3A state record in both events. She set the shot put record in 2007 with a throw of 45-6.75 and the discus record in 2008 at 157-07. Both records still stand today.
Not surprisingly, she was heavily recruited by Division I schools nationwide. She visited Oklahoma and North Carolina, but ended up picking Kansas State. Looking back, Leffler is content with her college decision.
“I’m very fortunate to be able to compete at the DI level and go to K-State,” she said Monday. “Not a lot of small town athletes get that chance.”
Leffler redshirted her first year in college. She said it was a learning opportunity and taught her patience.
“I got the opportunity to get in the flow of everything,” she said. “It was the same principles as high school, but it gave me time to adjust to college throwing. In track, you can still compete during a redshirt season, but not with your college uniform. So I did compete some.”
In the spring 2010, she got to put on the K-State uniform. She recorded two top-five finishes in the hammer throw, and was fourth in the shot put in the Jim Click Shootout. At the competitive Kansas Relays, she took 15th in the hammer throw and 17th in the shot put.
This past spring, Leffler finished seventh in the hammer throw at the Big 12 Outdoor Championships with a throw of 180-04. She was fourth in the shot put with a throw of 47-4.50 in the Aztec Invitational. She was seventh in the same event at the ASU Invitational.
She will compete in the shot put and weight throw during the indoor season and then do shot put, hammer throw and perhaps discus during the outdoor portion of the schedule.
“Discus has always been my favorite,” Leffler said. “The hammer throw is the newest event so it’s been exciting to learn new techniques and styles.”
Leffler thinks the Wildcats women’s team could be in for a good season.
“We’ve got a great group of individuals,” she said. “We could do really well.”
Leffler will graduate this May with a degree in Kinesiology. Since she is a junior athletically, she can elect to return to K-State for graduate school and compete in track for her senior season in 2012-2013.
Leffler said she enjoyed getting some family time in this week during the holidays.
K-State will compete in Emporia at the ESU Open March 31 and the ESU Relays April 7. The Big 12 Outdoor Championships is in Manhattan next year on May 11-13.
“It’s exciting to have family and friends have a chance to watch,” Leffler said.