Making her mark
Grizzle first-ever Tonganoxie track and field Gatorade athlete of year
When Roxi Grizzle warmed up for the javelin at a meet last spring, she couldn't help but overhear athletes from Paola critiquing her throwing style. It's fair to say the Paola girls weren't impressed with what they saw.
"They were saying the girls from Kaw Valley don't know how to throw and they were going to teach us how to throw in the Frontier League," Grizzle said.
Grizzle, a Tonganoxie High junior, didn't pay much attention to the chatter at first. She threw the javelin roughly 140 feet on one of her first attempts. After that throw, the chatter got uglier.
"A girl from Paola came up to me and was like, 'I could throw that in my sleep,'" Grizzle said.
Grizzle responded with a throw of 160 feet, 2 inches. Not only did she win that day at Gardner-Edgerton High, but she broke the Tonganoxie High School record on the toss as well.
The Paola athlete didn't say anything after Grizzle's winning throw. Grizzle, who carries herself with a happy-go-lucky personality, just couldn't help herself.
"After I threw the 160, I just walked by and said, 'Try throwing that in your sleep,'" Grizzle said.
The victory sparked Grizzle the rest of the season. She dominated the Kansas Class 4A state meet in Wichita on May 26 with a winning throw of 151 feet, 9 inches. Grizzle actually had the four longest throws of the state meet.
Grizzle's performance in the javelin earned her recognition as the 2006-07 Kansas Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year. Gatorade and Rise Magazine issue the award annually to a prep star in each state.
Grizzle is the first Tonganoxie track athlete to ever win the award.
"It's a good honor for her," THS throws coach David St. Cyr said. "She's earned it. She's worked hard this season. She picks up techniques really well."
To illustrate how effective Grizzle's technique was last season, St. Cyr said 120 feet was considered average for THS. Grizzle consistently threw in the 140-foot range.
"It's like in baseball when you step up to the plate. Some people have doubts," THS track and field coach Chris Weller said. "Then there are the George Bretts who just say, 'I'm going to get a hit.' Roxi has that attitude when she throws."
Grizzle recently competed in the Junior Olympic Outdoor Track and Field Championships on June 17 in Indianapolis. She threw the javelin 144 feet in the preliminaries. The top eight advanced to the finals. Grizzle, placed sixth at the time, was one of them. She finished in third with a throw of 150 feet.
"I've never competed in a meet like that before," Grizzle said. "It was nerve-racking because there were college girls who were thrown in with us. They were freshmen going into college."
In all likelihood, Grizzle will throw the javelin in college. She's already checked out Division I schools Nebraska and Virginia. Grizzle said she wanted to study physical education.
Grizzle can't really improve upon much, but she said she wanted to place higher than her fourth-place showing at the Kansas Relays next spring. Grizzle also has goals she's set after she graduates from THS.
"I really want to go to the Olympics, but I really have to put my mind to that one and work hard," Grizzle said. "But that's one of my goals."
Working hard is nothing new for Grizzle. She's represented the Chieftains at the state meet for two straight years. Before Grizzle took first place last spring, she finished fourth as a sophomore. She competed for De Soto her freshman year and finished seventh.
Grizzle said St. Cyr was the best coach she's ever had. Not much goes through Grizzle's mind as she prepares for a throw. Just St. Cyr's valued advice.
"We want her to be smooth and controlled," St. Cyr said. "Try not to run all erratic. Try to make it look effortless. Work on being tall. Stay up on the javelin instead of bending over like a baseball pitcher."
Obviously, the advice has paid off.