MARYSVILLE — In the sports world, tearing an ACL can damage most athletic careers, if not the athlete’s spirit. And if one ACL injury isn’t enough to stop you from competing, usually a second or third would put you on the couch for a while. But if your name is Amanda Klep, four ACL surgeries are still not enough to get in the way of achieving your goals — which turned out to be three WIAA State Track and Field Championship medals.
Klep, a junior at Marysville-Pilchuck High School, has competed in soccer, basketball and track for years, and her competitiveness has taken its toll on her ligaments.
“I’ve been in track since seventh grade, but I was off and on through middle school because I had surgery for my ACL, and I didn’t really participate in eighth and ninth grade,” said Klep.
As a member of the select soccer team Northwest Nationals, Klep injured her ACL playing soccer in eighth grade.
“I couldn’t compete my whole freshman year. My first game back from the first surgery, I was playing soccer so I was running and my knee started to hurt. That’s when I tore my other ACL.”
The anterior cruciate ligament is one of the main ligaments in the human knee, and is a common sports injury. Reconstructive surgery and intensive physical therapy are common treatments.
Klep injured her left ACL first, and then her right.
“It was pretty rough at first,” she said. “It was definitely surprising. Right when it happened I knew what it was, since I’d already torn my ACL before. It was a setback, and nine months later I was like, ‘I can finally play again.’ I had my friends and family, and they were always supporting me. My closest friends and family and even coaches said, ‘Do what you want to do.’ So I started to play again.”
At the end of the varsity basketball season her freshman year, Klep found out that the first surgery was done incorrectly.
“It was a botched surgery,” she said. “I got a second tear on the left during a basketball game because they didn’t put it back in the right place.”
After yet another surgery and almost constant physical therapy, Klep returned to soccer, this time playing for the select team Crossfire. She competed in San Diego during her sophomore year and ultimately tore her right ACL once again, holding her back from that season of high school soccer.
“It went left, right, left, right,” said Klep. “This was my first season actually being able to play for M-P. It was really uplifting because for two years I couldn’t play, but I was still involved with it. It was really cool to come back out and play.”
The Tomahawks made it to the district playoffs last fall, and Klep is hoping to help bring them even further next year.
“We had a pretty good season. This last year it was really fun because we were super close,” she said. “There were some girls from my team who I played select with, and since I played up, all these girls are seniors. We played really well and got a lot better by the end of the year. It was fun because of how well we were connecting.”
Despite her injuries, Klep, along with Mackenzie Nolte and Carley Fritz, are set to captain the team next year and have big plans for the Tomahawks.
“Everyone is saying, ‘I can’t believe that you can still do this!’” she laughed. “Our goal for next year is that we want to get to state and we want to host state at our own field.”
This year also marked Klep’s first year of having a full-health season of track and field.
“Last year, I ran track and at the meet before districts, I was running the 200 and went over the finish line and tore my meniscus. I went to state in 4A and got 12th in the 100-meter but I wasn’t at full strength,” she said. “It was hard but I didn’t want to give up.”
Persevering is serving her well, as she drew the most medals of any Tomahawk at the state meet held last month.
“It was awesome. It’s so incredible, especially with not being able to compete for so long,” said Klep. “To go from not competing at all to being able to go to state in four events was just amazing.”
Klep earned a spot on the podium for her 100-meter, 200-meter and 4x400-meter relay.
“Our relay team is like a family,” she said. “Us four girls are pretty much all sisters. We work together and pump each other up and scream and cheer. To be a good relay team we had to connect, and we do that so well naturally. At one point our 4x400 team was ranked No. 1 in the state.”
The best part of being back to full health is that she still has one more year to make it count.
“It was a lot of dedication and just wanting to come back,” she said. “I had to go through physical therapy every day. I was there after school for three hours and in the summer I went twice a day. My family especially, best friends and teammates are helping push me to get through it. I’m so glad that most of us are juniors and can look forward to competing next year.”