2019 DI NCAA Indoor Championships

Grant Holloway Aims For Historic Triple At NCAA Indoors

Grant Holloway Aims For Historic Triple At NCAA Indoors

In a career filled with superlatives, Grant Holloway looks to outdo himself this weekend at the NCAA Indoor Championships.

Mar 7, 2019 by Kevin Sully

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Perhaps the most accurate and powerful testimonial to Grant Holloway’s abilities on the track doesn’t come from a member of the Florida coaching staff, but from the school’s rival 150 miles to the northwest. 

“You look at Grant as an athlete and he’s Jesse Owens-like,” said Florida State head coach, Bob Braman. 

“Think about it. Who have you ever seen in the NCAA that can run 44 in the quarter and do a collegiate record in the hurdles, can run the 4x1 can long jump 26 feet and he’s the most important leg of their 4x1? I’ve never seen any athlete in the NCAA with that skill-set.”  

Drawing parallels to one of the greatest track athletes of all-time is effective shorthand. Owens once set four world records in 45 minutes. His name evokes not just brilliance, but a boundless element of “is there anything he can’t do?”  

In just over two years, Holloway’s resume has echoes of Owens. Four NCAA hurdle titles, two runner-ups in the long jump. This season he added the short sprints to his portfolio. In his first meet running the 60-meter, he ran 6.51, tops in the NCAA this indoor season and tied for the ninth-best in collegiate history. 

Mike Holloway, Grant’s coach at Florida, was on the phone when the time popped up. “Oh. Wow,” he said to his friend on the other end. 

Mike Holloway has borne witness to Grant’s greatest hits--the 43.8 4x400 split, a collegiate record of 7.42 in the 60m hurdles, 8-meter long jumps. The more events Grant attempts the more he seems to dominate. Heading into the NCAA Indoor Championships he leads the nation in the 60m and 60m hurdles and is second in the long jump. The one 200m he ran this year was fast enough to qualify him for the national meet, though he won’t race that event in Birmingham.  

“I feel like if I put the training and the effort into any event I feel like I can make a world team in anything I do.”

When Grant Holloway mentions the decathlon, his coach interjects, “That’s funny, 'cause he’s not gonna pole vault.”

But when it comes to the sprints and hurdles, it’s not hyperbole. The open 400m and the 400m hurdles could be his best events. 

“His dad thinks he should run the 400m hurdles,” Mike Holloway said. “When you run 13.1 and split 43 you should be able to run the 400m hurdles right?”

But for this meet, he will compete in the 60m, 60m hurdles, long jump and 4x400m. In the history of the NCAA, no athlete has won three individual events at an indoor championship. Only two have done it outdoors--Jarrion Lawson in 2016 and Owens in 1935 & 1936. 

Initially, Holloway (both athlete and coach) were non-committal about an NCAA quadruple. After a successful dress rehearsal at the SEC Championships where Grant won the 60m, 60m hurdles and finished second in the long jump, they decided to go for it. 

“One of my volunteer coaches said, ‘How do you not enter the guy who is your school record holder in the 60m, in the 60m?’ I was like, ‘that’s a good problem to have,’” Mike Holloway said.


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After the 2018 season, Holloway could have followed the path of Michael Norman, Rai Benjamin and Sydney McLaughlin and turned professional. He was second at USAs in the 110m hurdles and his season best of 13.15 was bettered by only three men worldwide in 2018. Of the 13 athletes who set collegiate records in 2018, Holloway is only one is still competing in the NCAA

But he came back because he still has a detailed to-do list. He wants the collegiate record outdoors in the hurdles and a long jump title. The latter has proven to be a difficult puzzle to solve--at least at the NCAA Championships. His two runner-up finishes were bookended by 11th and 9th place showings. 

“If I was to leave today, everybody would remember me as the person who could always hurdle but struggled sometimes in the long jump,” Holloway explained in a letter announcing why he was returning to Florida for his junior season.

In that letter, Holloway also mentions needing another year to mature before bringing on the expectations of a professional career. 

“With Grant, the biggest thing was him recognizing he wasn’t mature enough to do it yet--him recognizing there were certain things he had to work on both on and off the track, so that made his decision easier. I didn’t try to influence him either way. Obviously, I’m extremely happy he came back but I would have been just as happy and proud for him and of him if he decided to turn pro last year,” his coach said.

At least from the outside, he’s handled the pressure deftly during his college career. There’s no bigger personality in collegiate track and field. He’s vocal, exuberant and funny. His coach calls him an “energy monster.”

But Mike Holloway says that energy needs to be managed. 

“He thinks he can outcompete everybody and when you’re dealing with technical events like the long jump and the hurdles, you over-compete it gets you in trouble. So we’ve had to teach him to temper those things and control that emotion until after he crosses the line or after he lands in the pit,” Holloway said. 

Aside from harnessing his irrepressible emotion, there are other reasons to think he is capable of improvement this year. Knee surgery in the summer of 2018 eliminated his base training before the indoor season and a sports hernia that he suffered after his collegiate record indoors curtailed his potential. This year, he’s had a full build-up, along with a commitment to yoga, pilates and a better diet. He hasn’t broken his collegiate record of 7.42 in the hurdles yet, but he has run between 7.43 and 7.49 on five occasions. That consistency, along with the 6.51 in the 60m, indicates there is another level of Holloway. 


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Entering these championships, there are plenty of questions:

Can Holloway get that elusive long jump title?

Can he join Owens in the small club who have won three individual titles in one meet?

Will he win an NCAA championship in an event he hadn’t even run before January?

Regardless of the answers, his stardom is imminent. He’s too good in too many events. Last year, he shared the stage with an otherworldly group of NCAA runners. This year, it’s decidedly less crowded. 

Beyond this weekend (and the outdoor season), his focus will most likely return to the high hurdles.  “He’s obsessed with the hurdles. He always has been. He long jumps for the team, he sprints for the team but he really loves the hurdles,” Mike Holloway said. 

In December, before the season began and Grant added the 60m to his agenda, Mike Holloway was asked what Grant stood to gain by competing this year in college. He was, after all, the collegiate record holder and had only lost one final during his NCAA career, at outdoor conference his freshman year. What possible motivation would he have entering another season where he was expected to dominate?

“I’d ask you have you ever met me, have you ever met Grant? Neither one of us are ones to be complacent or be satisfied with what we’ve done or where we are. If we don’t get better this year, in both our minds we are a failure.”