A lot can change in 12 months. Just ask Rocky Mountain College guard Gracee Lekvold.
This time last year, Lekvold was putting the bow on an outstanding high school career up in Scobey. Fast forward and she’s the Frontier Conference freshman of the year and playing big minutes for a national title contender.
“Right away when we were at practice, definitely I was getting tired. I ended up getting tendonitis in my hip because I haven’t played that much in a long time. Just practicing every day, it was a challenge, but I was looking for a challenge so it was good," Lekvold said.
Funny enough, Wes Keller was the only coach in the Frontier Conference to offer Lekvold an opportunity to play. She opened his eyes during last year’s Montana-Wyoming all-star series and he knew then that he’d found a diamond in the rough.
“The thing about Gracee is, it doesn’t matter who she’s playing against, she’s not going to back down," Keller said. "She’s just tough. She’s a little bulldog out there. She’s played a vital role for us defensively the last 20 games or so. A lot of times she’s tasked with guarding the opponent’s best player.”
Lekvold, who was coached by her dad Jedd in Scobey, has felt right at home with Keller on the sidelines.
“I definitely see similarities with him and my dad, because I feel like they’re always on me, which is fine. But from high school to college there wasn’t much of a change, because they were always on me," said Lekvold.
Speaking of a lot changing in the span of a year, the Rocky women have done a complete 180 from last year’s 1-11 team that was mired in turmoil.
“It’s just a testament to the quality of people that we have in our program. Our coaching staff, our players. They get along with each other, they care about each other and they love each other. They go to war for each other," Keller said.
Second-seeded Rocky will host 15th-seeded Reinhardt University out of Georgia at 7 p.m. on Friday night in the opening round of the NAIA National Tournament.