DENVILLE _ Grace McGurn dominated the softball throw as a fifth grader at St. Agnes School in Arlington, Va.
McGurn, now a junior at Villa Walsh, would rear back and unleash monster throws at elementary school track meets, outdistancing the rest of the field by several yards.
She didn't think much of it at the time and never thought it would lead to anything of significance but, eventually, it did. Once McGurn, a resident of Madison, got to high school, she began throwing the javelin.
On Saturday, May 4 at the Morris County Relays, McGurn achieved a personal record with a throw of 116 feet, five inches. Although the Vikings were sixth as a team in that event, McGurn established herself as one of the area's best.
"I feel confident and that definitely helps," McGurn said. "I've been practicing a lot. My goal is to get to 125 feet."
That shouldn't be very difficult. McGurn has improved dramatically each year. As a freshman, she sent the spear 88 feet. By the end of ninth grade, she was at 104 feet, a school record.
"Grace has taken control of her throwing," said Jamie LoBue, who coaches the Vikings' throwers. "She's not intimidated or nervous. She should keep adding distance. I'm proud of the way Grace is progressing. She's really come into her own."
A sprinter before participating in field events, McGurn, who also plays volleyball and basketball, uses her speed and strength to excel.
"I had a rocky start in javelin," McGurn said. "It was fun, even when I didn't do well. All of a sudden, something clicked."
Prior to May 4, McGurn's best was 115 feet, 7 inches attained earlier this spring in a dual meet against Morristown-Beard.
Her goal is to throw in college. A strong math and science student, she is considering pursuing sports therapy.
"What pushes me is wanting to throw the javelin in college," McGurn said. "I'm motivated by that."
With the Morris County Tournament and sectionals looming, McGurn will be extra focused and eager to make an impact.
"Grace has a lot of raw talent, a lot of ability," LoBue said. "She's fun to watch."
Of all the sports McGurn plays, she's fondest of track.
"I love the atmosphere," she said. "I've always been drawn to track. Everyone comes together. It's an individual sport but I feel like it's more of a team one."