CLAREMONT, Calif. – Adrian’s Kelsea Sellers love of basketball almost became her downfall as an athlete.
The sport she loved was betraying her, specifically her right knee. Two injuries that happened on the basketball court should have kept it off the track, but Sellers knew she didn’t want an athletic career of what ifs.
Fortunately determination and hard work allowed Sellers to rebound from two major knee surgeries and she completed her college career with six school records and a very unexpected trip to the Division III Track and Field Championships.
“You always look back and wonder what if, but coming back this year and running as well as I did kind of made up for it,” Sellers said. “I never would have dreamed of making nationals here so regardless of what I do I’m happy.”
The problems for Sellers began her senior year in high school when she tore her anterior cruciate ligament in her right knee before the team’s first basketball game. A guard on the team, Sellers’ desire to play necessitated some modifications to her body.
“I wanted to play the whole season,” Sellers said. “I wanted to play. I had it all taped up and in a big brace and it was like that all season.”
Ignoring the pain no longer, Sellers had surgery right before Christmas and missed the entire track season.
“I wasn’t happy,” Sellers said. “My sister was right behind me and we were going to run the relay together. It was my senior year, her sophomore year so it kind of got ruined.”
Sellers enrolled at Adrian, where she wasn’t recruited for track, and thought her athletic career was behind her.
“I wasn’t going to even run track in college,” Sellers said. “The only reason I did was because I felt like I left something unfinished in high school with the injury.”
So she walked onto the team and started to prepare for sprints and the relay team. Her relay team broke the school record in the 4×100 relay. It was the first time Sellers had run since the surgery and it looked like the next three years were only going to get better.
Then during winter break her sophomore season, Sellers came home and played in an alumni basketball game at her high school. She came down awkwardly and knew something was wrong. Her instincts were correct, she had torn her meniscus in the same knee. She had another surgery and was in a brace that went to her hip, walking on crutches for six weeks.
“I didn’t want to tell coach, I knew he would be mad,” Sellers said. “He didn’t want me to shoot around a basketball at school.”
“The wind was out of my sails when I heard that,” Adrian head coach James Larson said. “That happens, I know she got back to it. She came back determined. Hard work pays off.”
Sellers didn’t want to disappoint two seniors that were on the relay team with her, so she toughed it out.
“I wasn’t supposed to run outdoor track but I had those two girls that were seniors and I really wanted to run the relay with them,” Sellers said. “I missed the first couple meets and then came back and ran conference championships.”
Sellers came back for her junior year, but with trepidation.
“I was scared coming back, I didn’t want to tear it again,” Sellers said. “Most of the time I have to put it out of my mind. It’s nerve wracking.”
In addition to sprints Sellers considered doing the long jump and hurdles but one day at practice quashed that idea.
“I tweaked it a little last year during jumping drills,” Sellers said. “I had to have another MRI and fortunately it was only sprained. I had to get some fluid drained, but I didn’t miss any meets. It wasn’t a major thing but it still makes me nervous doing some things.”
Besides running in the sprints kept her busy. Because of the damage to her right knee, she had to switch her technique coming out of the blocks.
“Now when I come out I start with left leg forward so I am pushing off with my left instead of my right when I come out,” Sellers said. “My first step is with my right and every once in a while when I am warming up and stepping in the blocks I get a little nervous but it’s something I can’t think about. I just have to run.”