What a weekend
Grizzle, Pistora finish 1-2 in javelin as girls team records highest finish
Wichita When Roxi Grizzle took her first steps Saturday on the javelin runway outside Cessna Stadium, a calm, easy feeling made the journey as well.
"There was something about this morning that didn't feel the same as when I warm up for other meets,"the Tonganoxie High junior said. "It was just something about today."
Perhaps it was the track gods' way of telling her she was about to thoroughly blow away the field at the KSHSAA Class 4A state track and field championships.
On her first throw of the javelin preliminaries, Grizzle ripped off a toss of 151 feet, 9 inches -- more than 22 feet further than any of the 14 competitors who had already thrown before her -- setting a standard no one could reach on her way to a state championship and its accompanying gold medal.
"It feels great. There's nothing else I wanted any more than a state championship under my belt for next year," said Grizzle, who improved on her fourth-place finish as a sophomore. "It's awesome."
So was the actual performance itself. Grizzle came into the meet tied with Concordia's Heather Bergmann for the longest throw of the season in the Class 4A ranks. However, Bergmann won the Class 4A regional at Royal Valley a week earlier, meaning Grizzle would throw seventh in the state meet's second flight, while Bergmann would go eighth.
Grizzle immediately hit her big throw, Bergmann fouled on her first attempt, and the psychological warfare already was finished.
"What's really noticeable after something like that is the opponent. Their heads automatically go down," said Tonganoxie girls coach Chris Weller. "You can just see a disgusted look in their face."
Once she had them down, Grizzle didn't let up. Of her six combined preliminaries and finals throws, she finished with the four longest marks of the competition. She would have had the top five, but fouled on her third prelim attempt when the implement landed inches wide of the throwing area.
That left everyone else scrambling for second place, and Grizzle's teammate, senior Ali Pistora, took full advantage.
While no match for Grizzle's bounty of big throws, Pistora was a model of consistency in her own right. After opening with a rather pedestrian toss of 119-7, she improved on each of her next four tosses, culminating in a best of 141-3 that slipped her past Bergmann, securing the silver medal for the second straight season.
"I was just disappointed I didn't throw as far," said Pistora, who last spring saw her gold-medal dreams end when Labette County's Katelyn Penner stole the lead on her final throw of the meet. "I thought I would be at a better point at the end."
Adding to Pistora's disappointment was the realization a storied high-school career that saw her medal in the javelin all four years at the state meet, as well as make two trips to the Class 4A state girls basketball tournament, had come to an end.
"I hate it," said Pistora, who will throw the javelin at Kansas State University next year. "I wish I was a freshman again so I could start back over."
Pistora finished fourth as a freshman, third as a sophomore and second as a junior at the state meet in Wichita. The natural progression would have put her in the top spot this year, but that honor instead went to her teammate.
While the 1-2 javelin finish took center stage for the Chieftains, it was hardly their lone storyline from Wichita.
Grizzle's younger sister, sophomore Roni Grizzle, finished second Friday in the shot put with a toss of 41-8 to begin the Tonganoxie medal parade.
Later Saturday, the 4x800-meter relay team of Andie Jeannin, Abby Eisman, Meghan Puhr and Christy Weller ignored their No. 14 seed, finishing third with a time of 10:01.41. Weller then came back hours later and used a strong kick to finish third in the 800 in 2:19.33.
"The last lap was probably a lot faster than it's ever been for me. I guess you can thank the coach for that," said Christy Weller, nodding toward her dad. "He's been looking at times all through the week. He told me the other night, 'I think you can get third. If you run your best, you can get up there.'"
In the end, all seven girls who made the trip to Wichita won medals as the Chieftains finished with 33 team points, good for fourth overall behind Concordia (82), Eudora (44) and Baldwin (35).
"I'm elated," said Chris Weller of the highest state finish in the program's history. "It's just been totally unbelievable."
On the boys side, Tonganoxie senior Zeb Kissinger broke through for the Chieftains' lone medal, and appropriately enough, it also came in the javelin.
Like the girls 4x800 relay, Kissinger overcame a No. 14 seed to finish seventh thanks to a best toss of 175-3.
"We had a couple (boys) with an outside shot, but Zeb was one I maybe didn't think of," said Tonganoxie boys coach Phil Williams. "He really competed well. Our javelin coach (David St. Cyr) had a great day."
Teammate Travis Guthrie also tossed a personal-best 171-10 to finish ninth.
Rounding out the Tonganoxie boys were Kendrick Whittington, who took eighth in the high jump at 6-0; Jeff Hughes, who took ninth in the triple jump at 41-8, and John Davis, who was 14th in the 400 at 53.68.
"They all competed well. That's all you can ask," Williams said.
"We had a really good season. We ended up winning four meets, mainly because of our depth and not our individual talent. I'm really pleased. They worked real hard this year."
KSHSAA Class 4A state track and field championships
Friday-Saturday at Wichita
Girls team scores
Concordia 82, Eudora 44, Baldwin 35, Tonganoxie 33, Hays-TMP-Marian 32, El Dorado 30, Buhler 29, Andover Central 27, Wamego 25, Clearwater 22, Andale 22, Santa Fe Trail 20, Parsons 20, Wellington 18, Paola 17, Iola 16, Jefferson West 15, Smoky Valley 14, Colby 12, Chanute 10, Augusta 10, Marysville 9, Atchison 7, Douglass 7, Abilene 7, Belle Plaine 6, Topeka Hayden 5, Clay Center 5, Girard 4, Holton 4, Royal Valley 4, Pittsburg 4, Labette County 3, De Soto 3, Kingman 3, Louisburg 2, Andover 2, Kansas City Ward 2, Kansas City Piper 1.
800 -- 3. Christy Weller, 2:19.33.
4x800 -- 7. Tonganoxie (Andie Jeannin, Abby Eisman, Megan Puhr, Weller), 10:01.41.
High jump -- 11. Ali Pistora, 5-0.
Javelin -- 1. Roxi Grizzle, 151-9. 2. Pistora, 141-3.
Shot put -- 2. Roni Grizzle, 41-8.
Boys team scores
Andale 48 1/2, Paola 45, Clearwater 32 1/2, Wamego 28, Abilene 28, Augusta 27 1/2, Belle Plaine 25, El Dorado 24, Atchison 24, Rose Hill 22, Andover 21, Clay Center 18, Baldwin 17, Holton 16, Parsons 14, For Scott 14, Pratt 13, Colby 13, Louisburg 12, Anderson County 11, Chanute 11, Royal Valley 11, Ulysses 10, Pittsburg 10, Jefferson West 10, Council Grove 10, Concordia 8 1/2, Eudora 8, De Soto 8, Mulvane 8, Chapman 7, Buhler 7, Kansas City Piper 7, Marysville 6, Smoky Valley 5, Girard 5, Topeka Hayden 4, Osawatomie 4, Kansas City Ward 3, Spring Hill 3, Hiawatha 3, Larned 3, Russell 3, Cherokee-Southeast 2, Wellington 1, Tonganoxie 1.
400 -- 14. John Davis, Tonganoxie, 53.68.
High jump -- 8. Kendrick Whittington, 6-0.
Javelin -- 7. Zeb Kissinger, 175-3. 9. Travis Guthrie, 171-10.
Triple jump -- 9. Jeff Hughes, 41-8.