FORTVILLE — Alexa Christensen never knew how fast she could go. All she needed was a little push.
Encouraged to run track last season as a sophomore by Mt. Vernon physical education teacher Phil Deardorff, Christensen, who grew up playing volleyball, was unsure what to expect.
Although the beginning was slightly embarrassing, Christensen showed why she belongs in a track and field uniform after qualifying for regional competition in her first season with the team.
At the Pendleton Heights Sectional last season, the then-rookie runner finished third overall in the 100-meter dash in 13.05 seconds to advance to a tough Ben Davis Regional.
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“My first indoor meet I did awful; I fell down,” Christen said with a laugh. “When I started coming in first towards the end of the season is when I really started loving it. I was like, hey, I can be good at this.”
She finished 13th at the regional the next week in 13.30 seconds. However, her fastest time as a sophomore was 12.95, which is still considerably behind the school record of 12.09.
Time, though, is on definitely on her side as she continues to makes consistent strides of improvement.
Christensen also competed on the Marauders 400-meter relay team in 2014-15 with teammates Kiara Gibson, Aubri Benbow and Alexis Franklin. Together they advanced to Ben Davis and finished seventh overall. Gibson and Franklin, who are both sophomores, will run again this season with Benbow lost to graduation.
That taste of success pushed Christensen to focus on running, in accompany to volleyball, during the offseason.
“I went to Acceleration (Indiana) a little for track and volleyball both,” she said. “And sometimes on the weekends a friend and I practice our starts off the blocks and our form.”
This season, however, according to Mt. Vernon head coach Tim Leonard, Christensen will be used all over the lineup. Although rather young in terms of experience, the athletic junior will be the team’s ace in the hole.
“I don’t think there is any sport she can’t do,” Leonard said. “If it wasn’t volleyball it would be basketball. She can do anything on the track. She’s done everything from the 400 on down, but we could put her in the 800 or she could probably even long jump.
“Once we get towards the county and conference meets we will zero her in on what her best chances are.”
But winning is no longer a stranger to Christensen, who also helped Mt. Vernon earn a sectional title in volleyball during the fall. Running track, something she is interested in pursuing at the collegiate level, might have been the best decision of her life.
“I was really happy I decided to run,” she said. “I had so much fun.”
Mt. Vernon will open the outdoor portion of its season Tuesday at Greenfield-Central. And this year, Christensen, now a veteran, has high expectations for herself and the team.
“This year it’s a lot different,” Christensen said. “Everyone is super encouraging though. We want to break the 400-meter relay record, and I want to break the 100 record.”
Alexa Christensen, Mt. Vernon
Last season: regional qualifier in 100-meter dash and 4×100-meter relay
Best friend: Anne McCain
Favorite food: Sushi
Favorite team: Colts
Favorite color: Purple
Movie: Can’t pick one