WaKeeney-Trego Community High School junior Lexi Riedel went up for a jump shot during the Purple and Golden basketball tournament last December in WaKeeney. Riedel felt something pop when she landed. Doctors did a test and determined she tore the anterior cruciate ligament in her knee. She also had damage to the meniscus and medial collateral ligament.
Riedel, one of the state's top sprinters, had surgery, spent eight weeks on crutches and hasn't been able to compete in track this spring. On Tuesday, Riedel watched her teammates compete at the season-opening Ellis Invitational.
"The last few months have been the longest ever," she said. "I am so ready to come back."
Riedel, whose status is uncertain for the rest of the season, is one of several top northwest Kansas athletes who suffered an offseason injury and haven't competed in a meet.
Victoria senior sprinter/jumper Taylor Kisner is recovering from a knee injury. Kisner, a Fort Hays State University signee, had three second-place finishes and a third-place showing at state last spring and led Victoria to the Class 1A team title.
"It happened around the end of January, the beginning of February," she said Wednesday.
"I just rolled my ankle and my knee started hurting really bad and it wouldn't stop, and I took a week off just thinking that a little bit of rest would make it better. Then, I went and played, and I twisted it, and it got hurt again," she said.
Kisner needed surgery to clean out some fatty tissue that was causing the pain.
"My knee is good," Kisner said. "It has gotten a lot better. We have been doing a lot of rehab and lifting. We will be ready to go on Friday."
Hill City senior Reggie Jordan, an all-state football and basketball player, suffered a knee injury in late February against Oakley. He will get his brace off Friday and is expected to come back after Easter. Jordan finished sixth in the Class 2A long jump last spring and was the Ringnecks' lone scorer at the state meet.
"Just getting an athletic brace for it and just start practicing," he said.
Riedel has put together back-to-back standout years. As a freshman, she finished second at state in the 400-meter dash, was on the runner-up 1,600-meter relay and was third in the 100-meter dash and 200-meter dash.
Last year at state, she earned second place in the 100, 200 and 400 and ran on the fourth-place 1,600-meter relay. Riedel was expected to see the doctor today and could be released.
"Hopefully the doctor is in a good mood, and I can get released and it will all be good," she said.
Even if she is cleared, Riedel is unlikely to compete until at least May. Coach Jeff Rhoden said Tuesday that Riedel is unlikely to compete in the April 29 Goldsmith Relays at WaKeeney, one of the biggest regular season meets of the year.
"That would be pushing it," he said. "Everything would have to be perfect for her to be able to run there."
Riedel said she can't sprint all spring and would probably run the 800 or 1,600 when she returns, two events she has never competed in at the high school level. For now, though, Riedel, like Jordan and Kisner, can only rehabilitate and recover.
"It's been hard," Riedel said at the Ellis meet. "Especially today, seeing everyone compete, it's been hard."