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PIAA Track and Field Championships

COMFORTABLY NUMB: Punxustawney Junior Mary Grusky Places Third in Javelin, Fourth in Discus Despite Achilles Injury

SHIPPENSBURG, Pa. (EYT/D9) — Mary Grusky’s toes were numb.

Her left ankle was tightly wrapped to cut down on the pain in her strained Achilles tendon. It was the only way the Punxsutawney junior could compete on Friday at the PIAA Track and Field Championships.

A little loss of feeling in the extremities was worth it.

Grusky overcame the injury, a fluke one in which she suffered last week at the District 9 championships, and placed third in the javelin with a throw of 137 feet, 11 inches and fourth in the discus at 119-6.

Just competing at all in Shippensburg was something of a minor miracle.

As she was waiting to compete in the discus at the D9 Track and Field Championships in Brookville on May 17, she stood after stretching and felt something strange. She could barely walk. Even putting weight on her left foot sent searing pain up her heel into her calf. She feared the worst.

“It killed me,” she said. “I instantly went into tears. It hurt physically, but mentally it was worse. It was like, ‘Oh jeez. I can’t. I’m not going to be able to do this.’”

Grusky only attempted three throws in the discus and two in the javelin before waving the white flag. Still, her efforts were good enough to qualify for the state meet.

Then the real work began. 

Getting that Achilles sound enough to make the trip.

Grusky was unable to walk on her left foot for two days. On Monday, still hobbled, she skipped practice.

Serious doubts crept in that she could give it a go.

“On Saturday and Sunday, I laid around all day and I was like, ‘This isn’t going to get any better,’” Grusky said. “I really didn’t think it was going to go well. Tuesday I went to my trainer and I was like, ‘I can’t sit around. Please wrap it.’ He wrapped it and I went out and threw in practice and it felt good.”

Grusky carefully nursed it all week and came to Seth Grove Stadium on Friday morning with tempered expectations.

Her first goal was to just make it through the competition.

But she let fly her best effort of 119-6 on her first attempt in the Class 2A discus. The foot held up. It heel felt sound.

She could take a sigh of relief.

Grusky was concerned, however, about the javelin in the afternoon.

“I have to run down the runway and do a hard plant on my left foot,” she said after hopping off the medal stand in the morning. “I’m hoping it stays sturdy.”

It did — just long enough.

Again Grusky uncorked her best throw in the javelin competition on her first attempt. She followed that up with two more throws in the 130s before the Achilles began to ache.

“It was great. Usually my first throw is my best throw, so after that I was all pumped up,” Grusky said. “I was like, ‘Sweet. This is exactly what I wanted to do.’ I was really, really proud of myself.”

Her final two throws suffered because of her discomfort.

“It really starting hurting,” she said.

Grusky came closer to her season-best efforts in both the discus and javelin than she thought she would, given her injury.

“I wanted to place in both,” she said. “That was my only goal. I didn’t care where I placed as long as I placed in both. That’s what I was hoping to do and I did it.”

It was Grusky’s second and third medals at the state meet. As a freshman, she placed seventh in the javelin.

Lancaster Catholic’s Margaret Bila won the discus with a throw of 140-6. Sophia Mazzoni of Derry Area claimed gold in the javelin with a mark of 161-10. Grusky was just over a foot away from second place. 

She’s excited to see what she can do in her final track and field season next year.

Hopefully injury free.

“I know a lot of the girls I was throwing against were seniors and older than me,” Grusky said. “So I know next year I can maybe come back and get the gold.”