CU senior Elisa Grandmange

CU senior Elisa Grandemange doesn't do much cardio or stretching. She spins, accelerates and throws weight—high and far.

Elisa Grandemange’s (Neuro’19) license plate reads “E THROWS.” It makes sense: Every day she spends hours practicing discus, javelin and hammer throws.

Most afternoons, the CU senior is among a handful of track-and-field athletes laboring at CU’s Potts Field throwing ring — heaving, refining form, keeping alert for errant missiles. They launch, rise, fly and arc back to earth, gashing it.

When Grandemange — a two-time Washington State high school discus champion and a triple-threat thrower at CU — lines up alongside competitors, she stands out.

“I’m almost always the smallest one out there,” she said.

At 5’5”, Grandemange relies on technique, touch and thousands of repetitions for success, including a personal best in the hammer in May, when she threw it 59.71 meters (195.89 feet) at NCAA Regionals.

Her mother, Leila, was a professional ballerina, and Grandemange, who was born in France, said she “learned rhythm, choreography and body awareness” early, all of which help when spinning 1,260 degrees in a few seconds with the briefest optimal window — a fraction of a second — to launch the 8.82 lb (4 kg) hammer.

Grandmange is exactly what her CU coach, Casey Malone, is looking for. “I would take the fast, coordinated, hard working, skillful, great competitor and fearless athlete any day over a larger athlete,” Malone said. “Elisa is all of those things.”

In the 10th grade, shin splints led Grandemange to step away from sprints and hurdles. She turned to javelin and discus. Her technique impressed coaches.

The hammer throw — now her specialty — came late.

“Hammer isn’t a high school sport,” she said. “It tears up the field. I had never even seen one until senior year.”

That’s when a local hammer coach introduced her to it.

They began practicing at a ring on an abandoned part of a golf course “in the middle of nowhere,” Grandmange said.

Five years later, the decision to add the hammer to her repertoire has led to a degree of NCAA prominence, and a recipe of sorts: A burst of ballet steps, four rotations — and a long throw.