The soon to be junior will compete in the DownUnder Games
Grant Conway may have just finished his sophomore year, but he's already proven himself as an elite track athlete. He's now a two time State qualifier with three State medals to his name from this past season, but now he's taking his talents to the international stage. Conway will be heading to Australia next week to compete in the DownUnder Games, a track event that brings athletes from all over the world to compete. He's honored to receive an invite so early in his high school career.
"It feels pretty great," said Conway. "It gives me something to strive for knowing that I'm invited to this stuff early in my career so if I keep working hard then hopefully I can get invited to more stuff for the next two years."
With the high school track season ending just a month ago, the sport is still fresh in Conway's mind. That makes training for a major event like this a bit easier, as he basically just needed to stretch his routine into the summer.
"I've been coming in pretty much every morning and still working out with coach Campbell just doing workouts that we do during the normal season," said the young Tiger.
St. James track coach Joe Campbell has just tried to help him maintain his peak performance from State, which isn't the easiest task.
"He's just trying to maintain what he had at the State Meet, which is difficult to maintain that high level of ability and competition, as well as not wearing your body out," said Campbell. "The workouts have really been focusing on maintaining his form and doing a little bit of interval work."
While he'll be continuing a sport that he's been inundated with all spring, this is going to be a whole new experience for Conway. Not only will this be his first time out of the country, this will be Conway's first plane trip. A long trip of 13 straight hours after a connection flight will definitely be an adjustment before he heads to a new country.
"I'm just going to enjoy it. I'm not going to let the firsts bother me that much," said Conway. "I'm just going to take it one step at a time and see how things go."
But Conway won't have to get off the plane and jump right into track. The athletes will get a free day for their first full day so they can get used to the new time zone before getting into action.
"The first full day we have down there is our free day, so there's mini activities that we can go and do," said Conway. "After that, yeah we pretty much get down to it and start doing a few practices."
Conway will also expand his arsenal back out. Throughout the season, Conway competed in the high jump, hurdles and relays, but he focused on the latter two as the season wore down. Conway will be high jumping and doing the hurdles down in Australia and could potentially do some relays too. While he hasn't high jumped competitively recently, he's still putting more of his focus on preparing for the hurdles.
"Not really, I haven't worked at (high jumping) at all," the soon to be junior said with a laugh. "So that's one thing I'll be doing when I get down there. I'm sure it won't be too hard to pick up on it right away."
His high school head coach isn't worried about the fact that he hasn't high jumped in a while.
"He hasn't high jumped in about five weeks, but he does really well without a whole lot of practice in the high jump," said coach Campbell. "He's very talented, very gifted and it's definitely not because we work on it in practice."
The young Tiger track star is setting some high standards for himself at the DownUnder Games. He was among the top finishers in the hurdles at this past year's State meet and he expects to be right up there again in Australia.
"I'm hoping I can win the 110's and then the 300's will be iffy. I think they're medaling the top three, so I'm just hoping to be up there in the top three or top five," said Conway. "Then in the high jump I'm looking to do decently in that too."
Conway said that his State experience this year helped him prepare for this week a lot. Last season, he only had one event, but he ran in four events in 2017 and that helped him gear up for a heavy workload against elite competition. The competition format is also the same as State. The running events will have prelims one day and finals the next, while events like the high jump will all be in one day.
"Yeah, it did, because now I know what it's like to do a bunch of events like four events one day and three events the next day," said Conway. "Now I know kind of what my body can handle so when I go to events like this I know what I'm capable of doing."
While Conway is excited for the track events, he's most excited to experience everything that Australia has to offer.
"I'm mostly looking forward to just experiencing Australia in general and just kind of the whole culture and all the wildlife," said Conway. "It'll be nice to compete down there and stuff, but it will be better to just be able to explore Australia."
Coach Campbell and all of St. James is proud of what Conway has accomplished and can't wait to see what he does on the global stage.
"I think we're all very proud of him and everyone that knows the program knows how great he is and how hard he works," said Campbell. "We're just proud of what he does and we're very excited for him."