Written by Stephanie Martinez on May 4, 2021
“Are you guys still in season?” Is a question that Tabetha Deines (JR/Salina, Kansas) hears all too often. A majority of sports typically only range for one season out of the whole school year. And while that might be true for Deines, she competes in what could be considered a three in one sport. Deines is a part of the cross country and track and field team, but combining the two teams, she competes in three different seasons year round.
Even with the hardships that the pandemic brought amongst student athletes, the obstacles never phased Deines. Each season, Deines has managed to punch her ticket to every nationals meet, even coming away with an All-American Award.
In Deines’ perspective, cross country has never been her strong suit. Loving everything middle distance, cross country was the season that made her run 2.62 miles too many. But even though this isn’t the sport where she feels most at home, she was still able to conquer every course, no matter the conditions.
Having a windy and hilly conference course was something that a majority of athletes were not looking forward to as they stepped up to the line at the KCAC Cross Country Conference meet on November 14, 2020 in Salina, Kansas. But with the contagious positive energy brought by her teammates and the home course advantage, Deines was ready to tackle the course.
Deines came in 13th out of 101 runners, earning herself a qualifying spot to the NAIA Cross Country National Championships in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. At the national meet, even though she came in with her 800 meter training, Deines still finished 202nd in the nation out of 326 runners.
When indoor track season rolled around, Deines knew that her time for redemption had finally arrived. Taking a fall the year prior left her feeling as though her work at the national level was left unfinished. It was never just about qualifying for the national meet, now it was time for her to cross that line and show everyone what she was able to do.
Sneaking her way into finals with a time of 2:17.62, beating the girl in 9th by over two seconds, Deines was on her way to becoming an All-American. Even though she had the title right there, she admits that she didn’t want to reach out and grab it before the finals race actually occurred. Finishing 5th in the nation, Deines finished with a time of 2:15.94 and officially got to call herself an All-American.
With the weather seeming to never be on the team’s side, Deines felt at a loss not knowing when they’d be able to have a day where the conditions would be in their favor. But even with some windy weather, Deines was able to hit B-Standard in the 800m at the Loren Reusser Invitational with a time of 2:15.98, qualifying her for the NAIA Outdoor National Championships in Gulf Shores, Alabama on May 26-28.
Even though she still managed to punch her ticket to the national meet, Deines was left a bit unsatisfied. Two weeks later at the Tabor Invitational, Deines marked a new personal record with a time of 2:15.30, which put her 7th in the nation for this event and 2nd in the conference.