Paige Grosel has grit.
Sore left quad and all, the Marietta High sophomore ran one for the team, and was instrumental in helping the Lady Tiger thinclads clinch the 2010 Southeastern Ohio Athletic League track and field championships at Don Drumm Stadium Saturday.
Going into the last girls event of the meet, the 4 by 400, MHS needed either to win or place second in the relay to become league champion. If the Lady Tigers had been third or lower, Chillicothe would've captured the crown.
Grosel was slotted to run the first leg in the event, but she was hurting.
Mollie Schramm had to make a tough call - and fast. Either run with her or sub for her.
"There are a lot of meets that come down to the 4 by 4," said the veteran Marietta High track coach. "It was a really tough decision whether to run Paige or not."
"We looked at LeAnne (Ross) and Louisa (Barton)," she continued. "And, LeAnne said that 'I think Paige hurt can run better than I can.'"
Grosel herself was determined to compete.
"We were debating or not whether I was going to run it," the sophomore said. "And, we figured after getting second and third in the two mile that we were ahead by 3 1/2 points.
"We knew we had to place one behind Chilly or beat Chilly (in the 4x400 relay). We decided as a group that it would be OK for me to run it."
"Paige said she could do it," the coach added. "She said her parents were OK if we put her in. So, she did it for the team."
Needless to say, when Grosel toed the starting line, the Marietta faithful held its collective breath. This was drama at its best, and Paige Grosel and her orange and black relay teammates - Erica Dawson, Maegan Grosel (Paige's cousin) and Hillary Danford - were thriving on it.
"Logan and Chilly both had good 4 by 4 teams," Paige Grosel said. "It was intense, but that's what we like, having the pressure on us, so it would make us run a lot faster. Everyone knew what we were up against. We knew it was going to be a tough race to the finish."
After the gun sounded, Grosel was off and running, like there was no tomorrow. Racing once around the track, she looked good and passed the baton to Dawson smoothly.
"I tried not to think about it," Grosel said of the sore quad. "All I was thinking about was finishing the race. I just gutted it out."
Did she ever.
Mind you folks, this was Grosel's third competition of the meet. Earlier, she'd won her specialty the pole vault with a jump of 10 feet, 6 inches, and had placed fourth in the 400 in a time of 1 minute, 00.77 seconds.
Schramm breathed a deep sigh of relief.
"Paige had a great leg," the coach said, "and got us started off - and that was the difference right there."
Dawson in turn handed the baton off to third leg Maegan Grosel, who then, after a lap, gave it to the anchor Danford. When Danford crossed the finish line, Marietta's 4 by 4 relay time was 4:15.17, good for second place, and a Lady Tiger team title.
Chillicothe ended up winning the last relay race but was runner-up in the meet.
"Hillary finished it out strong for us," Paige Grosel said. "We're really happy about this."
Afterward, Grosel had ice wrapped around her upper left leg, and was limping a little. But she was also grinning from ear to ear.
So were all of her teammates. It was an inspiring, hard-fought triumph.
Now, it's on to the district meet at Groveport-Madison Tuesday, Wednesday and Saturday.
Ron Johnston is the Marietta Times sports editor and can be reached at 376-5441 or at firstname.lastname@example.org