Sisters throwing track world for loop
Beth Grizzle didn't realize what her daughters had accomplished this summer until she helped them check in at the Junior Olympic championships in Omaha, Neb.
"I saw car tags from Arizona, California, Pennsylvania and New York," she recalled. "Then when I went into the registration tent, there was a huge bank of tables with signs that read which division the girls would be performing in. I saw one that said Hawaii, and that's when it really hit me just how big it really was."
The Omaha meet was the end of a 7,000-mile saga for sisters Ryan Frame and Roxanne, Veronica and Dominique Grizzle that began one day last spring when then-Lexington Trails Middle School sixth-grader Roxanne, 12, went to a De Soto High School track practice with her 17-year-old sister, Ryan.
"The first day she just sat and watched," said Ryan, who is entering her senior year in high school. "But on the second day she wanted to give it a try."
The two girls' enthusiasm for throwing events was soon shared with their younger sisters Veronica, 11, and Dominique, 9. It wasn't an interest that ended with school last spring.
The past three months, Beth and James Grizzle have hauled their daughters to track meets in places like Emporia, Tulsa, Okla., and Omaha.
All four sisters qualified for the Region 9 Championships in Tulsa. Roxanne, Veronica and Dominique earned spots in the Junior Olympic championships after a series of qualifying meets.
All four sisters made the national honor roll by placing in the top 100 in at least one event. Points were tabulated at different meets throughout the summer to determine the final standings. Ryan earned the honor in the discus (33rd); Roxanne in the javelin (12th), discus (22nd) and shot put (30th); Veronica in the javelin (49th) and discus (52nd) and Dominique in the javelin (26th) and shot put (87th).
Roxanne was the only sister to earn All-American honors by placing in the top 20 in the javelin through the same point system.
This past year, Roxanne and Veronica competed in the same division. Next season they will get a reprieve from each other, but will renew their rivalry again in 2004.
So far, Roxanne has out- dueled her younger sister. But Veronica relished the idea of beating her sister again as she did at the Region 9 meet in Tulsa.
"It was great," Veronica said with a grin. "I'm hoping to do it again."
The sisters took second and third places at the meet with throws of 69-6 and 60-9, respectively.
Roxanne turned the tables on her sister at the Junior Olympic championships with an eighth-place throw of 88-3. Veronica finished 32nd by whipping the javelin 54-0.
Dominique was the big winner at the meet by placing in the top 21 in two events.
She earned 21st place in her favorite event, the shot put, with a heave of 20-5. Her javelin throw of 60-11 was good for 13th place.
Ryan hopes to make strides in the throwing events next spring when she resumes her high school throwing career.
She did better the school record of 118-feet plus over the summer with a toss farther than 121-feet. But since she wasn't competing for the school, the record didn't stand.
"It was nerve-wracking competing against that tough of competition," said Ryan, who placed ninth at the Kansas 4A state track and field meet in Wichita last spring. "No one was throwing under 115-feet. I'm used to being one of the better throwers at my high school meets."
Ryan is proud of what her family has accomplished this past summer.
"We've been doing this for such a short time," she said. "But the girls we've been competing against have been doing it for a long time."
According to Beth, the track meets were equally as hectic as their schedule. Especially with the girls competing at different times.
"We'd be watching one event," she said. "And then we'd have to jump in the car and rush somebody else to another event."
Traveling to the meets was difficult, too, especially since James schedule as a professional wrestler took him to such places as Iowa, Minnesota, Arkansas and Oklahoma.
Beth and kids would load up and head for the next venue, while James would have to catch up with them later.
Track wasn't the only sport the girls competed in during the summer.
"We had to juggle our schedules between track and softball," James said. "They played recreational softball during the week, and then had tournaments on the weekends."