When Alameda High graduate Kellie Grigg joined the UC Davis women's track and field team as a freshman, she was a sprinter.

But she was open to trying a new event her sophomore season, and that move turned out to be a pivotal one in her athletic career.

Grigg started competing in the 400-meter hurdles, and this season as a senior, she won the Big West Conference Championships title in the event with a season-best time of 59.58 seconds.

"It was a good fit from the start," said Grigg about the event. "It involves a lot of detail and thought, which works well for me. I'm definitely a critical thinker. I work hard. I was able to build up my endurance and work on my technique. I really enjoy learning and refining and improving."

Kellie Grigg   (UC Davis Athletics)
Kellie Grigg (UC Davis Athletics)

In her sophomore season, Grigg placed fourth in the 400 hurdles at the Big West Championships and had a season-best time of 1 minute, .75 seconds.

"The cool thing about starting a new event is that you set a personal record off the gate," said Grigg, who graduated last week with a degree in managerial economics. "After the first race, I kept running faster and faster."

Last year, she finished the season ranked third all-time in UC Davis women's history with a personal-record clocking of 59.20 seconds, and she was the runner-up in the event at the Big West Championships.

The stakes were higher entering the Big West Championships this year.

"I was ranked second going in, but I was on my home track, so there was a lot more pressure around the board for me to perform," she said. "I had gotten second last year. There's only one way to go from second. Being a senior, you had one shot left. Either I was going to get it this year, or I wasn't going to get it."

Grigg won her qualifying heat in 1:00.79, then in the final, she won by more than half a second. She said the highlight of the season for her was her team winning its third straight conference championship title.

Grigg's season ended at the NCAA West Prelim Meet. Now she is headed back to the East Bay, where she has accepted a job.

As for her athletic future?

"I don't know," she said.

Maybe there's a new start on the horizon.

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