No time off for two-sport star Lexi Eaton

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Few athletes not only play, but excel, in two collegiate sports. The BYU women’s basketball team has two of them.

Senior Jennifer Hamson, who averaged 17.7 points per game while garnering WCC Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year awards, is known for starring on both the Cougar basketball and volleyball teams.

Two-sport star Lexi Eaton high jumps in a meet for the Cougars. Photo courtesy BYU Photo
Two-sport star Lexi Eaton high jumps in a meet for the Cougars. Photo courtesy BYU Photo

But the second half of BYU’s double-threat scoring combination, sophomore Lexi Eaton, is also a dual-sport athlete. Eaton averaged 16.8 points per game and was named to All-West Coast Conference team. Now just a few weeks removed from her team’s NCAA Sweet Sixteen appearance, Eaton is lacing up her track spikes to compete for BYU in the high jump.

“The last week and a half I haven’t done anything, just to let my body recover,” Eaton said. “I took some time off and caught up on school. Then today I had my first track practice, and I’m planning on competing at our home meet at the end of this month.”

Some athletes might need more than a few weeks to recover from a grueling five-month basketball season. Eaton, however, seems to thrive on the energy of competition.

Perhaps the most impressive part of her story is that she is able to do all this after a season-ending ACL injury to her right knee last year during basketball. Because of that, she missed track season as well.

“I pretty much had to take 10 months off, but not by my choice,” Eaton said. “(BYU women’s basketball head coach) Judkins forced me to take all the time off so I could heal. It drove me crazy, but looking back on it, it was the right thing to do so that when I came back I felt totally prepared and confident in every situation.”

Eaton said she never planned on competing in collegiate track.

“I was originally recruited for basketball,” Eaton said. “Then at the end of my senior year the high jump coach contacted me. I was like, ‘sure!’ So he talked to Coach Judkins, and we worked it out. Judkins is totally supportive of it, which is really awesome.”

If she could, Eaton would probably be playing a third sport for the Cougars. She was also recruited to play soccer, but her love of basketball won out. It wasn’t always that way, though.

“I actually hated basketball when I first tried it — just a little fun fact,” Eaton said, laughing. “I loved soccer way more, but then I just kind of figured out as I grew up that, for me, basketball just has more to it, where you can showcase your athletic ability.”

Athletic ability practically radiates from Eaton. On the court, she can do it all. She can hit smooth jumpers, take someone quick off the dribble, and finish at the hoop. She is a leader and steps up on the big stage, like when she scored 25 points to lead the Cougars to an upset win over the NC State Wolfpack in the second round of the NCAA tournament last month.

Those skills translate easily over into high jump. Standing at a lithe 5 feet 10 inches, Eaton was made for the event.

“I love to jump,” Eaton said. “If you see me on the basketball court in the summer, I’m always jumping to try to touch the rim and dunk; I dunked a volleyball last summer!”

Eaton’s personal high jump record is 5 feet, 11 ¼ inches. After taking a year off, she’s not quite sure where she is yet, but as always, her goals remain high.

“My goal is to get to regionals; then if I reach that I’ll adjust and try to make nationals,” Eaton said. “I missed going to nationals (in 2012) by one person. But I’m taking it one meet and one step at a time.”

She will only have a few meets to achieve those goals, but for an athlete as talented and driven as Eaton is, chances are she will find more success.

“I’m just excited to see if I can pick up where I left off two years ago,” she said.

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