Maxana Grubb likes to sing, just not alone.
The Amherst junior is part of the school's acapella group and the soprano does her best vocal work surrounded by the 15 or so other members of the ensemble. That she prefers to sing in the group rather than solo is interesting because when it comes to her performance on the track, she is out there alone and has become a dominate force, not only in Section 6 but throughout upstate New York.
"Singing is different for me," Grubb, 17, said. "It's a nice break from athletics but I feel a little more exposed. I like to sing in a group. It's just a different world [from running]. It's not like [the television show] Glee; we don't compete against anyone. We perform a concert at school at the end of the year, the same day as sectionals so I go [to sing] after I run."
Grubb is hoping that when she takes the stage for this year's concert, she'll do so as a sectional champion and record holder. She ran a personal-best 2:10.69 to capture the 800 meters at the Williams Invitational on May 11. Her goal is to break the sectional mark, set by Williamsville South's Jessica Ortman [2:09.47] in 2005.
That Grubb has the sectional mark in mind isn't all that surprising. She set the sectional indoor mark in the 600 meters [1:33.69] at the New York State Championships in March, toppling a record [1:34.7] that had stood since 1984.
"I think I can definitely break 2:10 and get the section record," Grubb said. "I hope to place at States, too. I didn't think I would be where I am now. I never thought I would be as fast as I am now. [When I started running] I never knew how states and sectionals worked. I just learned from my teammates and this has been better than I ever imagined it to be."
Amherst coach Shannon Brown believes that Grubb can set another record in the upcoming sectional meet, not simply because she did so during the indoor season. Grubb's approach and attitude about running has played a big role in her success and that, according to Brown, is as significant as her speed.
"She's a very thoughtful kid," Brown said. "She takes what you are saying and she digests it. She asks a lot of questions. I think she has the capability to be more of a statewide presence. She wanted to run the 400 and the 800 last year and wound up winning both at sectionals. She is stronger than she gives herself credit."
Equally impressive is how Grubb has rebounded from an early-season left calf issue. She strained the muscle - she attributed it to dehydration and not eating properly - and reached what she called "a little bit of a breaking point". Grubb went through physical and massage therapy and began working out more with elastic bands and says that has been most beneficial.
What has also been beneficial is having her 15-year-old sister Mallory on the team. The freshman runs longer distances, such as the 1,600 and 3,000 meters, but the two were part of the same 4x8 team during the indoor season. Mallory Grubb won the 3,000 meters at the Williamsville Invitational with a personal best 10:27.19 a month after winning the 1,600 at The Harbor Creek Track and Field Invitational in a personal-best 5:11.98.
"She's like my best friend," Maxana Grubb said. "Sometimes I feel like I am looking up to her. She is an amazing student and athlete and works for everything. She is amazing. She pushes me. I get scared running in workouts against her because I don't like when she beats me. We push each other in practice."
Perhaps they'll be pushing each other to sectional titles by the end of the month. While Maxana Grubb will continue running once the spring season ends, she won't be running cross country in the fall. She says she has never run cross country, preferring to play soccer because of the "mental break from running" it provides.
"Distance is nice but it's a different mentality," Maxana Grubb said. "You have to clear your head and focus more, in my opinion. The shorter distances you don't have to think as much."
Whatever thought process Maxana Grubb has employed, be it on the track or the stage, it seems to be working.