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June 02, 1977 - Image 11

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Publication:
Michigan Daily, 1977-06-02

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ThursdaY, June 2, 1977 THE MICHIGAN DAILY Page Eleven
Grace aims for NCAA title

By DAVE RENBARGER recognized as a banner year for
Mr: Grace.

For three days this week, the
elite of collegiate track will con-
x,'rge upon Champaign, Illinois
P r the rnnning of the NCAA Out-
door Track Championships.
James Grade will be there,
renresenting Michigan in not
one but two events--the open
400 meter dash and the 400
meter relay. For Grace, these
races represent the culmina-
tion of an extraordinary year
of track competition-a year
that began way babk in Sep-
tember under a cloud of un-
certainty stemming from two
slowly-healing legs.
A year that progressed. rapid-
lv, as the junior quarter-miler
developed into the Wolverines'
m o s t dependable performfer,
consis'ently winning races, both
important and inconsequential.
A year that ends this weekend
in Champaign, and, in victory
or in defeat, will nonetheless be

AFTER SPENDING most of
his first two years of college on
the sidelines with a variety of
leg ailments, including seven
wnlled hamstrings at one time or
another, Grace really came into
his own during the 1977 cam-
paign.
He started the year off on the
right foot by placing the utmost
importance upon his training,
gearing his daily schedule of
workouts to avoid injury.
"I train a lot harder than
most people on the team," said
the powerfully-built product of
Detroit's Mumford High School.
"My legs were really hurting
and I had to build them back up
in order to compete."
Grace's dedication on the
practice track pays large div-
idends under the mental strain
of competition, the way he
sees it. This explains his re-

cent success, regardless of the
caliber of competition.
"Sprinting is just as much
mental as it is physical," said
Grace. "You just say to your-
self before the race, 'I ran such-
and-such in practice. Now I can
run it again.' That's wh I'm
ready for any race as long as
I'm in really good shape."
Sometimes, h o w e v e r, even
Grace finds himself in the wrong
frame of mind going into a not-
so-important race.
"WE RAN in a total of some-
thing like 19 meets this year,"
he said. "It's really hard to get
psyched up for some of the more
trivial m e e t s. That's when
you're most likely to get beat-
when you're not ready to race
mentally."
On these occasions, Grace
must dig deep inside himself
and reach for his fierce com-
petitive spirit and desire to win.
"I'm a competitor and I don't
like to lose. I want to win when-
ever I can, but if I lose, I'll take
it in stride."
Two weeks ago, at the Big
Ten Championships, G r a c e
didn't win. But he didn't lose
either. The race was the open
400 meter finals and the result
was a rare dead heat in a
photo finish.
In the words of the co-cham-
pion himself: "It was definitely
a close race. Too close to call.
At first I thought I had him
with my lean, but it's hard to
say. It was definitely the most
exciting race I've ever been in.
"(Indiana's Tim) Peters and
I were favored going into the
race," G r a c e recalled. "He
passed me with about 1St yards
to go. I figured I could get past
him in the stretch, but he kept
pulling away.
"I STARTED my kick with
about 80 yards left, but he was
still right there. I started get-
ting worried. Then I started
closing fast on him all of a sud-
den.
"At the tape I really leaned
and looked over at him. He was
straight up and I thought then I
won. At first, I was declared
the winner.

"I went over to get my medal
and they said, 'Hold it.' They
kept looking at the pictures and
called it a draw."
The two were both timed in
46.42, a Big Ten record as
well as Grace's personal best.
The points for first and second
place were spit and, since
there was only one first place
medal, they flipped for it.
Grace lost the toss.
"I naturally would have liked
to have won the title outright,
but there wasn't much they
could have done in that situa-
tion," he said; taking the deci-
sion in stride.
The dead heat notwithstand-
ing, Grace does hold four Big
T e n championships, outright.
Outdoors for the past two years,
he has run on victorious 400
meter relay teams. Indoors, he
has likewise been a part of two
consecutive winning mile relay
squads.
AND, AT THE 1976 edition of
the Spartan Relays, Grace par-
ticipated in the fastest sprint
medley relay the world has ever
timed.
The quartet of Jeff McLeod,
Grace, Doug Hennigar and Andy
J o h n s o n registered a 3:23.6
clocking in the 400-220-220-880
yard race, to shave .2 of a sec-
ond off the existing mark.
"The event isn't used in big
meets. That's probably why the
record still stands," said Grace.
'But it's nice to be in the world
record book. That's what it's all
about."
Grace set another record
some years ago of which he

is equally proud. In his senior
year at Mumford, and only his
second -ear of track ("I was
a swimmer before that"),
Grace trned in a :47.4 quar-
ter to set the City of Detroit
record.
"After all these vears since I
graditated. that r e c o r d still
stands," Grace said. "That rec-
ord is something that I am ex-
tremely proud of, what with all
the quarter-milers to come along
and not break it. That's some-
thing I can really boast about."
Turning from the distant past
to the immediate future, Grace
is hoping for a strong perform-
ance in the nationals this week
to close out the year, but is
nonetheless realistic about his
chances.
"I WOULD really like to do
well in the open quarter," he
said. "But I know I'll have to
run :45.0 something to qualify.
I'm just hoping to slip in the
back door somehow or another."
The 400 meter relay should be
a d if f e r e n t story, however.
Teamed with Hennigar, Arnett
Chisholm and Charles Crouther,
Michigan could be a real factor
in the race, according to Grace.
"We ran :40 flat last weekend,
and if we can do that again, we
should make Saturday's finals.
(Prelims a r e on Thursday,
semis Friday.) If we make it
that far, we'll place for sure,"
he predicted.
That sure sounds like a lot of
'ifs,' but if they can do just
that, then it would be a bit of
icing on the cake, topping off a
super year for James Grace.

MENTAL HEALTH RESEARCH INSTITUTE
SEMINAR SERIES
REX Y. WANG
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY
YALE UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MEDICINE
"SEROTONERGIC AXON COLLATERALS IN THE RAT
MIDBRAIN RAPHE: ELECTROPHYSIOLOGICAL
& ANATOMICAL EVIDENCE FOR AUTORECEPTORS"
THURSDAY, JUNE 2, 1977
SEMINAR: 3:45 p.m., Room 1057
TEA: 3:15 p.m., MHRI Lounge

vUallyrFMut y nr5 AL. nJM]N
MICIIIGAN'S JAMES GRACE displays 'the style and energy
that won him four Big Ten championships in his collegiate
career during the Central Collegiate Conference Championships
last winter. Grace goes after another title in the 400 meter dash
and the 400 meter relay this weekend at the NCAA champion-
ship meet in Champaign, Illinois.
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