EUGENE, Ore. — This is what they’ve trained for. They’re the final two standing. They’re going to the ‘Ship’. Grant Grosvenor and David Phillips have two very different careers with one common factor – the continual striving for excellence and that’s exactly what they’ll do at the 2013 NCAA Division I Outdoor Track and Field Championships, taking place today through Saturday.
Grosvenor earned his first berth to the NCAA following a ninth place finish overall at the NCAA West Region Preliminary. Following a win in his heat in the opening round, he took advantage of the automatic qualifier to advance to the quarterfinals in Austin, Texas on May 25. His ninth place finish in the quarters sealed the sophomore’s fate to extend his season all the way to the end.
The Mill Creek, Wash. native, in just two seasons in Blue and Gold made a name for himself at the conference level right out of the gate. In his first season, he won the indoor 800 at the Big Sky Conference Championship and proceeded to do the same for the Outdoor Championships, which were held in Bozeman.
His sophomore year has seen a steady climb, proving that being at the top isn’t always easy. He was dethroned in the 800 at the 2013 Indoor Championships, on his home track, where he came in second with a time of 1:52.31, one of his more average races of the season.
Clearly Grosvenor wasn’t satisfied and used that as major motivation headed into the outdoor slate. He didn’t compete in the 800 until the Mondo Mid Major Challenge, marking the third meet of the season. But to say he competed would be a huge understatement. He teamed up with Matt Tex, who also had a huge spring in the 800, for one of the best races in recent program history. At the Mondo meet, Grosvenor and Tex grabbed the 1-2 finish, both clocking their first sub-1:50 time. Both broke the old program record of 1:49.61, set by Patrick Casey, the last Bobcat to compete in a running event at the NCAA Championships. With Grosvenor’s gold medal, he is now at the top of the record books with a lifetime best 1:49.28.
At the Big Sky Meet, he still did not reclaim the conference title when Tex earned his first individual title, however he still finished the weekend with two all-conference performances.
His time back at the Mondo meet kept him among the top-48 in the West region to qualify for his second consecutive regional meet. In 2012, he placed 43rd overall and after his ninth place spot just two weeks ago, his progress is certainly moving at an impressively alarming rate.
“Grant has had some outstanding performances this spring,” said head coach Dale Kennedy. “Even though he didn’t win the 800 at conference this year, I don’t think that has brought him down at all, especially seeing his teammate win it in outdoor. If anything, it’s what has driven him so hard this postseason.”
Grosvenor will make his championship debut at 5:45 p.m. (MDT) on Wednesday when he competes in the first heat of the 800 meter run.
Hammering it Home
He could be considered a gentle giant, always offers a smile and one of the hardest workers throws coach Mike Carignan has ever seen.
“He’s humble and he works hard,” Carignan said. “His devotion to being a Bobcat is apparent in both the classroom and in the ring. He’s closing out a collegiate career as one of the best.”
While Grosvenor’s career has escalated quickly, Phillips has taken his time, making calculated progress and peaking just as the right time. His senior year, as one of the pillars of the Bobcat Throws Corps has already culminated a stellar career. His first appearance at the NCAA Championships is simply icing on the cake.
This season has been hallmarked by one extraordinary performance after another. After winning the weight throw at the Big Sky Indoor Track and Field Championships for the second time in a row, he certainly used that momentum going into his final season of competition this spring.
With the exception of the season-opening Al Manuel Invitational and the NCAA West Region Preliminary, Phillips did drop a single hammer throw contest all season. This all came after an undefeated indoor season in the weight throw.
Phillips took ownership not once, but twice this season of the program record. The first time came at the highly-anticipated Cat-Griz Dual Meet hosted by Montana. His distance of 64.49m (211-07) also set a new meet record with the previous meet mark dating back to 2001.
Just two weeks later, he showed up in Forest Grove, Ore. for his final Big Sky meet. Looking to add to his trophy case, already holding four individual titles and 10 all-conference nods, he did just that and a little bit more. He uncorked a throw of 64.97m (213-02) to break his own record in the event and finish almost five feet ahead of second place.
Sitting among the top hammer throwers in the nation, Phillips knew over the course of the season that he’d get to make one final appearance at the regional meet. In 2012, he missed the National Championship cutoff by just one place, when he came in 13th overall in the field of 48.
The Deer Lodge native knew that there was no other option than qualifying and anything less would be unacceptable at this point of his career. Never to be one to turn down the challenges of the throws, he comfortably threw 63.66m (208-11) for 11th place overall and more importantly, the opportunity to throw one more time, one final time, but now on the national stage.
Phillips is now just days away from a potential fairy tale ending and his coaches have high hopes.
“We have no doubt that this is David’s time to shine,” said Kennedy. “He has a solid spot headed into the meet and that wasn’t even with a lifetime best throw. David will take advantage of this opportunity, be thankful for it and leave it all on the field.”
Phillips holds a 16thseed as he prepares to throw on Thursday at 12:30 p.m. (MDT) at Historic Hayward Field.
— MSU Sports Information