May 28, 2011
TURLOCK, Calif. - Western Washington University's Monika Gruszecki (Sr., Edmonds/Meadowdale) began and ended her career with national crowns as she threw a school-record 163-6 to win the women's javelin title in final-day action Saturday at the NCAA Division II National Outdoor Track and Field Championships being held at Al Brenda Track at Warrior Stadium on the campus of host Cal State Stanislaus.
Gruszecki (pronounced Grew-SHET-ski) also was a national champion for the Vikings as a freshman in 2007. She placed second at nationals in 2008.
Gruszecki, a senior from Edmonds where she graduated from Meadowdale High School, opened the competition with a throw of 154-0. The winning effort came on her next attempt, that going six-feet, seven inches further than her previous personal-best.
"That throw just obliterated the competition," said Western coach Pee Wee Halsell (24th year).
"You don't feel a thing when you hit it just right," said Gruszecki. "It was almost effortless ... This has been coming all season, and this was the competition I came in the freshest for."
Gruszecki, who has dual citizenship, plans to spend next year training to qualify for the Polish Olympic team.
"This was a nice capstone, but I'm not done yet," she said. "Javelin throwers peak when they're older, so I have a long ways to go."
Her mark of 163-6 is the best by a Western thrower since the javelin was redesigned in 1999 for safety reasons. Western's Joan Williamson won the NAIA national title in 1984 with a throw of 166-6.
Placing second and third behind Gruszecki were two Seattle Pacific athletes. Brittany Aanstad was the runner-up at 151-1, followed by Carly Andrews at 144-9.
Aanstad entered the competition ranked No.1 with Gruszecki No.2 on a throw of 156-11 to win the Great Northwest Athletic Conference title.
It was the third trip to nationals for Gruszecki who transferred to Philipps University in Germany for the 2008-09 school year before returning to Western.
Gruszecki becomes just the second Western athlete to win more than one individual national title. Men's pole vaulter Ryan Brown (Sr., Bellingham/Squalicum) has three and is going for his fourth tonight. He has won two indoor national titles and one outdoor crown.
On Thursday, Viking distance runner Sarah Porter (Sr., Hockinson) won the national title in the women's 10,000 meters. Her time of 33:17.39 was a meet record and the fourth fastest in NCAA II history.
Q&A with Monika Gruszecki
Former WWU javelin thrower Monika Gruszecki now works an an intern with the NCAA
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