As the youngest of three sisters, Miranda Grisham is always looking for a way to blaze new trails, especially in her athletic career.
She's found the perfect venue in track and field.
Unlike sisters Calley and Abbey, who have both moved on to college and beyond, Miranda is still writing her chapter in the family's high school sports story … and she added a great new page Monday.
Running for the Milledgeville-Eastland co-op, Miranda Grisham won three NUIC titles and nearly claimed a fourth at the conference track meet in Hanover.
Not bad at all, especially considering she didn't feel prepared heading into the meet.
"Going into the meet, I didn't think I was ready to go that far or run that fast," Grisham said. "To pull that off, I guess it shows I was a lot closer to form than I thought. Coach [Jason Wroble] told me what he wanted from me, and I guess he knew better than I did what to expect."
All four of Grisham's events were as close as it gets. She won the long jump by half an inch (15 feet, 7 inches to 15 6 1/2), then took the 100 by one-hundredth of a second (13.62 seconds to 13.63) and the 400 by two-hundredths (1:03.41-1:03.43). Karma caught up to her in the 200, where she came up one-hundredth of a second short (27.93-27.94) to Pecatonica-Durand's Erin Greene.
The races were so close, in fact, that Grisham boarded the bus after the meet thinking she had one win and three close second-place finishes.
"I knew I had won the long jump, but assumed I was second in all three races," Grisham said. "It wasn't until Coach showed me the results that I saw I had won them both. It was surprising and amazing and unbelievable, and it was a surreal bus ride home."
Celebrating victories is nothing new in the Grisham household. Calley, the oldest at 23, was the starting center fielder on Eastland's softball team that went to state in 2006, and Abbey, 19, is just a year removed from a solid basketball career in Lanark.
Like her sisters, Miranda plays basketball for the Cougars. But she chose the track over the diamond, for a couple of reasons.
"I started playing softball when I was a little kid, but only played 2 years, because I was bored," Miranda recalled with a laugh. "I like to be entertained, and with 23 girls on our Little Miss team – and everybody played about the same amount – I just realized that it wasn't exciting enough for me.
"Also, track is a more individual sport, and I like to be out there and push myself. I like the team aspect in sports, but I love seeing what I can do on my own."
That self-motivation is the reason why Wroble sees big things in the future, both near and far, for Grisham. He felt she had the potential to finish in the top two in each of her four events going into the conference meet, and he wasn't nearly as surprised as she was at her strong finishes.
"I know how much of a gamer she is," Wroble said. "About 2 or 3 weeks ago, I saw a mental change in her. She seemed to be a lot more focused, ready to battle every time she went out there. I think she's close to finally being in track shape after a strange spring, weather-wise, and she's realizing that postseason success isn't just about wanting it, but it's about going out and making it happen."
Grisham has experience on track and field's biggest stage, having run with seniors Katie Hutchinson, Kaitlyn Bissell and Brittny Olson in the 1,600 relay 2 years ago as a freshman. Grisham grew up with Olson, considers her to be like another big sister, and cherishes the memories of running together at the state meet.
But just like with her other sisters and brother, Justin, there is a strong competition factor between siblings. Grisham said the eye-opening experience as a freshman was a fun time, but is now ready to try and make a mark on her own.
Throw in the disappointment of missing out on the state meet last year, and Grisham has plenty of drive and determination to make the return trip to Charleston.
"I felt lucky to be there as a freshman, then last year just wasn't my year … maybe because Brittny and the other seniors weren't around to push me as much," Grisham said. "But I really want to see that blue track again, and I knew this year I had to kick it into gear if I wanted to make it back."
One would think that after winning three events and coming so close to a fourth title at the NUIC meet, Grisham would be extra confident heading into Friday's Class 1A Oregon Sectional.
But the girl whose mom, Carla, calls "very modest, and happy from the minute she wakes up in the morning" knows she's still got her work cut out for her, if she wants her junior season to last another week.
"Not so much confident, really," Grisham said. "I question myself a lot, and it was so close Monday that maybe it won't go my way Friday when I see a lot of those same girls again. I definitely have to bring my 'A' game, push myself a little more and go in ready for them to try and get me this time."
Family: Parents, Lance and Carla Grisham; sisters, Calley (24) and Abbey (19); brother, Justin (22)
Sports: Basketball, track & field (co-op with Milledgeville)
Other activities: Student council, FFA, FCCLA (community group), Servant Leadership (through Highland C.C.), National Honor Society
FYI: Won NUIC titles in 100 (13.62 seconds), 400 (1:03.41) and long jump (15 feeet, 7 inches) Monday, and took second in 200 (27.94). … Qualified for state track meet as a freshman with Milledgeville-Eastland's 1,600 relay team, which ran a 4:09.21 in prelims. … Sister Calley was a junior on Eastland's state softball team in 2006.