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Examiner
  • South sophomore breaks out with focus all on track

  • Blue Springs South sophomore Grace Klausen didn't anticipate leaving Tuesday night's Suburban Big Six Conference Track and Field Championships at Lee's Summit High School with three gold medals, the Golden Shoe Award and a cool nickname.

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  • Blue Springs South sophomore Grace Klausen didn't anticipate leaving Tuesday night's Suburban Big Six Conference Track and Field Championships at Lee's Summit High School with three gold medals, the Golden Shoe Award and a cool nickname.
    But that's exactly what happened to “Amazing Grace.”
    “She was amazing, wasn't she?” asked South girls track coach Ryan Unruh, who also coached the multiple all-state performer Samantha Nightingale for four years. “She did something Tuesday night that Sam never accomplished – that tells you what kind of night Grace had.”
    The sophomore distance specialist was playing soccer this time last year. But track soon took its hold on her and she dedicated herself to running, and it paid huge dividends at the conference meet.
    Much to to surprise of everyone at Lee's Summit High School, Unruh had Klausen run the 800 (2 minutes, 23.08 seconds), 1,600 (5:28.61) and 3,200 (11:37.53) and she won each event to claim the coveted Golden Shoe Award, which goes to the top point producer at the conference meet.
    “I felt real confident running the 1,600,” said Klausen, who also won the 1,600 and 3,200 at the Rusty Hodge Memorial meet at Blue Springs South earlier this season. “I have a lot of confidence in the 1,600 and in the 800.
    “After I won the 1,600, I ran my cool down and just went back to our tent and got plenty of fluids and ate something and prepared for the 800. After I won the 800, I was really excited, but I didn't know if I could win the 3,200 because Corinne (Rinne, from Blue Springs High School) is so good.”
    It took a personal best time of 11:37.53 – 22 seconds better than her previous best finish – to edge Rinne by a second.
    “I was so proud of her, so happy for her,” Unruh said. “No one really knows about Grace because she didn't have the cross country season she wanted and she played soccer last year instead of running track.
    “I told her Tuesday night that the hours she spent running and training between the end of cross country and the beginning of track season resulted in those three titles at conference. Now, we'll have to see how she responds to going into a meet where everyone knows who she is. She's got a big target on her back, and I think that's just going to make her that much stronger.”
    When asked about her lunge at the finish line that allowed her to win the 3,200, Klausen chuckled.
    “I just told myself, 'I'm not going to lose this race,'” she said. “I would have been happy to win one gold medal and do well in the other two races. I never thought I was good enough to win three gold medals at the conference meet.
    Page 2 of 2 - “And that is going to make me work harder. But it's funny, when I'm training and running, I don't think of it as work. It's fun. For so many years, soccer was my life, but then it wasn't as much fun and that's why I changed to track and field. This is fun. I've never had this much fun. Coach Unruh and the girls are great, I'm having a lot of success; it's all pretty amazing.”
    Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     
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