FARGO — Cece Deebom wasn’t sure what to expect in her first varsity track and field season as a high schooler.
She was a raw talent as an eighth-grader for Fargo Davies, but lost her freshman season because of the coronavirus pandemic. Deebom was just hoping she’d be able to compete this year.
“I mostly hoped I’d get to run and hopefully PR (personal record) by a little bit,” Deebom said. “I wasn’t expecting to PR by as much as I did in some of my events.”
Deebom smashed her personal-best time in the 200 meters from the 2019 season by 1.53 seconds, and shaved a half-second off her old personal-best in the 100-meter race. Deebom, who is in the midst of a stellar sophomore season for the Eagles, has recorded personal bests in every event she’s competed in this season.
“Certainly from the start, you knew that she was a talented athlete,” Davies head girls track and field coach Rory Beil said. “She was a little unrefined as a 14-year-old, but I mean, you could see her explosiveness. We knew that there was some potential. She had the good fortune of having a very strong junior and senior class to train with and emulate.”
Two years later, Deebom is putting her own mark on the storied program, and she might just be scratching the surface.
Deebom has two full seasons left at Davies, but has already solidified herself a spot in the conference record books.
She broke the East Region meet records in the 100 and 200 last week, which were previously held by Fargo South graduate and former University of Oregon track star Laura Roesler. Deebom topped Roesler’s 2010 Eastern Dakota Conference meet time of 12.08 in the 100 by .06 seconds and edged out Roesler’s 200 time of 24.73 by .12 seconds.
Deebom clocked in .41 seconds faster than runner-up Jasmine Williams of West Fargo (12.43) to win the 100 at the conference meet and crossed .84 seconds ahead of Williams (25.45) in the 200.
She also clinched the 100 hurdles in 14.95 seconds and placed second in the long jump with a leap of 17 feet, 6 inches. Davies won the East Region girls title with a score of 230.5, 130 points ahead of second-place West Fargo, for the program’s sixth consecutive conference title.
Deebom worked to improve her speed and strength in the offseason. She trained with Beil, who provides opportunities for his athletes to enhance their skills in the offseason, and it’s paid off big time.
“She was an athletic girl who hadn't really trained before in 2019,” Beil said. “She was really faithful about (training). I would say she’s transformed an already athletic body to another level of athleticism.”
Deebom is poised to bring home some more hardware this weekend at the North Dakota Class A track and field meet. The two-day event is slated for May 28-29 at MDU Resources Community Bowl in Bismarck.
Deebom placed fourth in the 100 (12.84) and 100 hurdles (15.93) as an eighth-grader in 2019. She was also a part of that year’s state-title winning 400 relay team.
“I definitely think, especially for hurdles, I’ve improved on my skills,” Deebom said. “As an eighth-grader, I kind of knew what was going on, but I was still learning. I feel like now, it being my third year on the team, I've got a handle on things a little bit more.”
Growing up with siblings, Deebom has always had a competitive spirit. She constantly competed against her brothers and sister, in games that oftentimes involved running. Speed runs in the family.
Deebom’s older brother, Koate, is a freshman jumper at North Dakota State. Deebom shares those NCAA Division I dreams.
“I think it'd be an awesome experience,” she said of competing at that level. “As I got older, it became something that I wanted to do more and something I actually thought I could have the chance of doing.”
After dealing with minor ankle injuries early in the season, Deebom is feeling good ahead of the upcoming state tournament.
The Eagles are the four-time defending Class A girls state champions, but will look a lot different since this year. They’re young by grade and by experience, having graduated a solid core of seniors last year. But the team’s mindset has remained the same.
“Certainly, our sights are set on trying to be on top of the podium,” Beil said.