Grant Conway may only be entering his junior year at St. James, but he's already making a splash across the world in track and field.
Conway spent the last week in Australia competing in the DownUnder Games, a track and field event that pits competitors from across the world against each other. A majority of the athletes come from the United States and Conway was one of the best among them. The Tiger won both of his hurdles events and was a part of second place finishing 4X400 relay team among other great finishes. It was an extremely busy time for Conway. The actual competition took place on Wednesday, July 5 through Friday, July 7 and Conway never really had much of a break.
"I ended up doing six events and most of those had prelims so I ended up actually running and stuff about 10 or 11 times within three days," said Conway. "It went great, I took first in the 110 hurdles in both prelims and finals and then the 300 hurdles we only ran once and I took first in that."
Conway was impressive to say the least in the hurdles. The soon to be junior finished both the prelims and finals under 15 seconds in the 110m hurdles. He was the only player under 15 in either race. After running a time of 14.98 in the prelim, he finished in 14.96 in the finals. The closest anyone got to Conway was James Tyrrell, who finished with a time of 15.65.
As spectacular as Conway was in the 110m hurdles, he was even better in the 300m hurdles. Conway was the top seed thanks to a previous time of 40.11, but he blew that time out of the water down in Australia. He finished the race in 38.99 and was the only runner to finish in under 40 seconds.
Conway also ran in a pair of relays, ran in the 100m dash and took part in the high jump. His best finish in those events came in the 4X400 relay, where he anchored the second place team that included fellow Americans Jacob Weston, Malik Gale and Micah Robins. He also earned a fourth place finish in the high jump by clearing 1.75m (or as we'd count it in America, about 5' 9").
While Conway was going non-stop over the span of three days, he didn't feel overly taxed. He actually thought it was easier than competing in fewer events over the span of two days at State.
"I learned that I can definitely do a lot of events in three days, because I don't know why, but it seemed easier than State," said Conway. "I think it was just because it was more relaxed and everything. Whenever I wasn't running an event or anything, I was just hanging out with my friends and everything, so I didn't have to worry about running. I could just enjoy my time down there and whatever happened happened."
The track side of things was fun, but Conway was able to do a lot more than run and jump during his week down under. After getting the chance to make friends with his competitors on the long flight, they had the chance to hang out and do a lot of different activities that they wouldn't be able to do in the States. The young Tiger said those experiences were even better than his two first place medals.
"I would have to say just making the new friends that I did and just being able to hang out with them and everything we did together," said Conway. "I chose to do this Hummer rain forest tour type thing, so we got into a Hummer with four other people that were down there and we went up this mountain and got to see some neat scenery and everything...on one of the last days down there the whole team pretty much went to this place called the Currumbin Sanctuary to see all the exotic animals and everything.
Conway said that he definitely plans on keeping in touch with a lot of the friends he made while in Australia. Those friends will also help keep him even more pumped to compete on the national stage even more in the future.
"It really does. It was really fun getting to compete against people from all over that you don't get to see on a daily basis," said Conway.
But it wasn't all roses for the week Conway was in Australia. The long flights and time changes can do a number on the body. One of the things that helped was the fact that they had a practice soon after getting off the plane for the first time to help stretch their muscles, but it was still a major adjustment. Then after spending a week adjusting to the new time zone, he had to hop on a flight and undo it all. Conway's flight actually went back in time, as it were, based on the time zones and length of the flight.
"I would say (the toughest part was) kinda getting adjusted to the new time," said Conway. "I adjusted to it pretty well, but the sun rises at like 6:30 and it sets at about 4:00, so it's not up for that long. I saw the sun getting ready to go down and I was like 'man, it must be like 6:00' but it was like maybe 4:00.
"Whenever we got there it was early in the morning, like 7:00 in the morning. So they made sure we were going and doing stuff to keep us awake so we could get adjusted real fast," Conway continued.
The event fit perfectly into Conway's summer schedule. Last week was the MSHSAA Dead Period, so he was not allowed to take part in organized team activities anyway. He will now have a week to recover a bit before the Tiger football camp gets underway next week.
"It fit pretty perfectly," said Conway. "Football's still going on a little bit this week, but I'm taking a few days just to get rested back up."