Farewell to Balch

What: Potts Invitational indoor track meet, the final competition at Balch Fieldhouse.

When: Friday and Saturday.

Details: The meet begins Friday with the men's and women's pole vault and the men's and women's high jump at 3 p.m. Most events will be held Saturday, beginning with the remaining field events at 10 a.m. and concluding with the women's 4x400 relay at 3:30 p.m.

When Colorado redshirt freshman thrower Elisa Grandemange moved to the United States from France at age 6, she never imagined her time performing ballet would lead to a successful high school throwing career that she hopes will resonate during her career in Boulder.

Growing up, Grandemange's mother, a professional ballerina, instilled athleticism and dedication to dance early on as she learned ballet.

When she arrived in high school her freshman year, she decided to translate some of that athleticism into running for track, which then turned her toward the throwing events.

"I started running as a freshman in high school, and then I got shin splints, and I decided to try throwing. I caught on really quick and it was fun, so I kept with it," Grandemange said.

To Grandemange's relief, her background in dance helped prepare her for what lay ahead in her new sport of choice.


"It made it really easy to catch on to the technique of throwing. It probably didn't help the running so much, but it definitely helped the throwing. It was easy to catch on with the footwork and stuff like that," she said.

By the end of her junior year, she realized she wanted to take her throwing career to the next level. To better prepare for the road ahead, she picked up the hammer that summer and began training in the new event.

After high school, Grandemange took her talents from her home in Kennewick, Wash., to Kent State, where she took a year off to lay a good foundation before competing. To the Buffaloes' good fortune, she chose to transfer after her redshirt year to Colorado, giving her four years of eligibility and the ability to compete right out of the gate.

Once she contacted CU throws coach Casey Malone, he started looking into her background and realized she would be a good asset to the team.

"Looking at how multitalented she was coming out of high school — she was a dancer initially and then she moved into being a phenomenal discus thrower, javelin thrower, picked up the hammer last year as a freshman. She kind of has this ability to accelerate objects as well as herself," Malone said.

Colorado redshirt freshman Elisa Grandemange, 19, is silhouetted against the windows at Balch Fieldhouse, which will host the Potts Invitational on Friday
Colorado redshirt freshman Elisa Grandemange, 19, is silhouetted against the windows at Balch Fieldhouse, which will host the Potts Invitational on Friday and Saturday. (Kira Horvath / Staff Photographer)

Heading into her first official collegiate season, Grandemange, 19, will be competing in four throwing events, and while she feels confident in some of the events, others may need some work.

"Out of the four different events that I compete, I'd say my strongest is hammer, my second strongest is discus, although I do need a little bit of work in that. Javelin is probably my weakest event, but we're going to train that a little bit. I throw the weight indoors, but it's a little bit heavy for me," Grandemange said.

With the Potts Indoor Invitational at CU coming up Friday and Saturday at Balch Fieldhouse, Malone is confident his newest athlete can make an impact throughout the season.

"Last year, in her redshirt year, she threw 56 meters (183.7 feet) in the hammer. So if you compare 56 meters to the other freshmen in the country, that places her somewhere in the top 10 in the country for freshmen," he said.

"If she doesn't improve at all, those marks are already in scoring range for the Pac-12 and close to qualifying for the NCAA regional championship. If she improved a little bit, she could definitely be a Pac-12 scorer, she could go to regionals. She has to improve about 2 to 3 meters to go to regionals."

Years after her first steps in ballet, Grandemange is still on the move.

Alissa Noe: noea@dailycamera.com