Determination keeps Grigora on track

July 19, 1992|By Michael Jefferson | Michael Jefferson,Contributing Writer

While running the 100-meter hurdles at The Athletics Congress (TAC) Regional Championships, 14-year-old Monica Grigora caught her shoelace on one of the hurdles, tripped and fell face-first onto the track.

She got right up and managed to finish seventh out of 10 competitors.

Coach George Helmers said he expected nothing less from Monica, a member of Helmers' Harford County Gliders track and field team.

She also battled near 100-degree heat and a 12-hour day on July 9 to complete the pentathlon against the best competitors on the East Coast.

"I ran the best I could run, but the sun drained me," said Monica, who finished third in the 13-14 age group at Clemson University in South Carolina.

"I just kind of collapsed after the race."

She also finished second in the triple jump to qualify for the TAC National Championships in that event as well as the pentathlon.

But Monica said she will not attend the nationals in Walnut, Calif., on July 28. She said it was too long and too expensive a trip, and interfered with vacation plans. She hopes to make the trip later.

Monica began competing in the pentathlon at the beginning of this season.

She also competes in the shot put, high jump, long jump, 100 hurdles and 800-meter run. She also competes in individual events.

"She's a very committed, dedicated type of child," said Monica's mother, Carol Grigora, who drove Monica to the TAC meet at Clemson. "When she does something, she tries to do it to the very best of her ability."

When Monica has the urge to work out on the hurdles, she doesn't have to travel to her local middle school or high school track.

Thanks to her mother, she need only step out onto the back yard of her Bel Air home, where she has her own set of hurdles.

Last year, Carol Grigora noticed that some track officials at the Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Regionals at Liberty College in Virginia had tossed out some old hurdles.

Carol Grigora quickly dug them out and brought them home in her van. They were fixed up and now they sit, waiting, in the Grigora's back yard.

"She's a student of the sport," said Ray Hruz, a 1982 Joppatowne graduate. Hruz, who works with Monica on hurdles, high jump and running events, is an assistant coach for the track and field team at Bel Air High School, where Monica will be a freshman in the fall.

Helmers says she has a great work ethic.

"She knows the events she's weakest in, and she'll work hardest in those events," he said.

"She might be tired and she might not want to do it, but she will. And that's why she's successful."

Her hard work at home and at team practices has resulted in some excellent performances this year.

At the TAC Youth Nationals on June 30, Monica leaped 4 feet, 10 inches in the high jump, a jump that would have earned her a gold medal at the Harford County High School championships last spring.

Her personal bests in the triple jump (30-6), 100 hurdles (16.94) and long jump (14-10) were all established in meet competition ++ this year.

"She keeps getting stronger and stronger every year," Monica's mother said.

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