When asked what he thought Mikayla Deshazer can accomplish over the next four years at Baylor and beyond, Lincoln Prep track coach Keith Cadenhead didn’t hesitate or hedge.
“I honestly think that she will be the (Big 12) champion within the next two or three years, and before she graduates from college, she’s capable of being one of the best throwers in the nation,” Cadenhead said.
And after four years of track-specific training (at Baylor), with access to world-class facilities?
“She could definitely qualify for an Olympic team,” Cadenhead said.
He’s aiming high because he’s seen everything the Lincoln Prep senior has accomplished — so far — as a multi-sport athlete without regular access to a track facility.
Deshazer has three discus state championships, and one state shot put title. She’s in contention to qualify for the U.S. Junior national team, and she only focuses on throwing in the spring and summer, when volleyball and basketball are over.
Finding a place to practice is one chore for Lincoln Prep track. Finding transportation is another.
“Practicing has always been hard when it comes to high school season,” Deshazer said. “There’s no track or throwing facility, and we have to commute somewhere. But I always throw on the weekends. It’s a bit of a struggle, but it doesn’t affect me. I can always find a place to throw, so it’s not that bad.”
Deshazer was born into a track family. Her father, Steven, was a decorated thrower in high school. He has coached Deshazer and her brother in AAU meets over the summer, and makeshift home practice sessions are nothing new.
On the days Deshazer can find a practice facility, cool. If not, no big deal.
“She’s progressed so much in the mental toughness aspect. We sometimes have busing issues, and there have been times where we show up 10 minutes before she has to throw,” said Frederick Pitts, her throwing coach. “People say she flips a switch. That ‘hate-to-lose’ mentality 100 percent describes her.”
Losing isn’t something Deshazer has done often in a shot and discus ring.
She did come in second in discus at last week’s Kansas Relays in Lawrence, despite a season-best throw of 153 feet, 5 inches. The winning throw of 174-2, from Nebraska junior Kalynn Meyer, was the second best in the nation this year according to flotrack.com.
Despite the rare setback, Deshazer knows exactly what she wants to accomplish in her final high school season.
“I’ve been winning since freshman year, so my goal is to do it again. The all-class title, very attainable,” Deshazer said. “With basketball season and everything, it usually takes me a while to get started. This year I jumped right into practice. I’m getting my throws in and picking up right where I left off last year,” Deshazer said. “It means I have a month more of improvement. It’s always competitive, but I know if I do my best, usually I’ll win and that’s what I try to do.”
Indeed, her goals are just as big as the ones her coach envisioned.
Deshazer wants to finish her high school career breaking 50 feet in the shot put, and 170 feet in discus. She wants to qualify for the U.S. Junior national team and experience international competition. And she wants to take Baylor by storm.
“I can make a difference and build for myself academically,” Deshazer said. “I see it as a win-win situation. I’m looking into biology and kinesiology, and maybe a career as physician assistant or an anesthetist.”
All are lofty goals … none are beyond her capabilities.
“She likes those challenges, and she responds well to them,” Cadenhead said.
Just ask the throwers she competes against.