NFA's Grabill has field day
Norwich - Norwich Free Academy coach Kara Kochanski-Vendola won't be allowed on the infield during her team's postseason track meets the way she was Tuesday.
When that time comes, she knows she has an extra set of eyes in senior captain Brittany Grabill, who has expertise in a variety of events.
"I can't be everywhere," Kochanski-Vendola said. "She knows what to do technically. I could see her coaching. She stands out as a team member and a person."
Grabill stood out in the long jump (15 feet, 11.5 inches) and the triple jump (33-10) in an Eastern Connecticut Conference Large Division meet against East Lyme on Tuesday, winning both in NFA's 97-53 victory that kept the Wildcats unbeaten at 5-0 overall, 3-0 in the division.
She also ran the leadoff leg of NFA's winning 4x100-meter relay team, joining Camille McKenzie, Lauren Knerr and MiaLynne Park to finish in 50.4 seconds, and was second in the high jump with a leap of 4-10. The high jump is a new event for Grabill in the last couple of weeks and her effort against East Lyme was enough to qualify her for the state meet.
Grabill is just one of NFA's multi-faceted stars.
The Wildcats won the Class LL state championship a year ago, backed by a victory from the 4x100 team which included Grabill, and are looking for a repeat.
Kochanski-Vendola's team has won the ECC Large title every year since losing to East Lyme in 2007.
"Dyshelle (Pemberton) led off the 4x800 (for NFA), then won the 100, then won the 400. She has unbelievable range," East Lyme coach Carl Reichard said. "And (Brianna) Lenehan can run everything from the 200 to 5,000 meters. They have quite a few big-meet performers ... and these coaches know what they're doing.
"I'm not going to lie to the kids and tell them we're going to win this meet. I tell them we're coming here to compete and to enjoy the level of competition."
Pemberton took the 100 in 12.5 seconds and the 400 in 1:00.1. Lenehan won the 800 (2:29), leading an NFA sweep in that event, and the 1,600 (5:13). That duo also contributed to a 4x800 win, combined with Charlotte Van Sambeck and Alyssa Field.
Gianna Folz (100 hurdles), Isabelle Moore (3,200), Lenee Ochsner (discus) and Jenna Schumacher (javelin) won events for East Lyme (4-1, 2-1).
Grabill received a partial scholarship to compete next year at Division I Quinnipiac University.
On Tuesday, she was participating in the triple jump and her new event, the high jump, simultaneously. She donned a red and white tie-dye shirt with the words "Lady Cats" between jumps.
Grabill turned in her winning leap of 33-10 in the triple jump, despite falling backwards, then immediately cleared her next height in the high jump.
"It's wherever we need me to be. I always enjoy whatever I'm in," Grabill said. "... Absolutely, I love my girls to death. Seeing them excel, I couldn't be more proud. I think it's very unique to have three or more universal people on the team that can score in so many events. We're definitely very lucky."
"Each meet, we take it as something big," said McKenzie, a junior who was one of four All-Americans on the Wildcats' indoor track team. "We're trying to have fun and work hard at the same time."
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