Grace Czellecz

Kelly Walsh’s Grace Czellecz crosses the finish in the 100-meter dash at the Casper Invite Friday, March 24, at Natrona County High School in Casper.

Dan Cepeda, Star-Tribune

Grace Czellecz has always been fast. She finished seventh in the 100-meter dash at the state meet two years ago and moved up to a fourth-place finish last year.

This year, however, the Kelly Walsh senior has found another gear.

Czellecz won the season-opening Glen Legler Memorial Invite with a time of 12.91 seconds. At the Natrona Invite she ran a 12.65 to edge Gillette senior Cassidy Wanke, who finished in 12.66.

“The times Grace is posting right now she was doing at the end of the year last season,” Kelly Walsh sprint coach Hannah Miller said. “I think she has a lot of potential and she’s going to have a great senior year.”

Obviously, it’s off to an impressive start. Czellecz finished second in the 55-meter dash at the state indoor meet in 7.38 seconds after placing fifth last year in 7.59.

And Czellecz’s start is a big reason why she is in position to finally win a state title.

“She’s getting a bigger step (out of the blocks) and throwing her arms out whereas last year it was just a little bit of a step,” Miller said. “So she’s getting out of the blocks faster and that gives her a head start on some of those other athletes.”

Czellecz has also found success in the 200 and the 4x100 relay to start the season.

She finished third in the 200 at the Casper Invite and has run the opening leg on the relay team that won the Glen Legler Memorial and the Casper Invite. The only constant on both of the winning relay teams was Czellecz.

But it’s in the 100 where Czellecz excels.

“The start is big for me because you have to get out of the blocks,” she said. “And then you have to maintain that through the race. I work on speed and form and endurance. … I work on everything together.”

Miller credits Czellecz’s offseason training for her improved time.

“Grace is a lot stronger this year,” Miller said. “She took some conditioning classes and that has really helped her start because she’s getting out of the blocks really quick. And she’s added some muscle mass and that’s allowed her to gain some speed.”

How much faster Czellecz can go has yet to be determined.

She knows, though, this is her last chance to win the 100 at state and join former Trojans Jerayah Davis (2011-14) and Hannah Carter (2015) as state champions.

“Winning state in the 100 would mean a lot,” Czellecz said. “Honestly, I would probably cry, just knowing that I have worked so hard for it and that it was finally paying off.”

This story originally ran in the Casper Star-Tribune.

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