Raven Grant has narrowed her focus.
Her results show it’s paying off.
The Conway sprinter had a pair of podium finishes at the Class AAAA state track and field meet in her junior season en route to being named the Toast of the Coast Girls Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
Grant took second in the 200 meters and third in the 100 meters. Last year, she was fourth and sixth, respectively, in the same events.
“I just started training harder. I started training in August and continued into February,” Grant said. “I lifted weights more and intensified my track workouts. I also improved my diet and had a better focus.”
This was the first season Grant had the time to focus solely on track from summer through winter ahead of the season as she gave up playing basketball.
She said the results were clear at the first meet of the season – the Outback Classic in Summerville on March 15 – when she challenged decorated sprinter Jasmine Quinn of Fort Dorchester.
“At the first track meet, the Outback Classic, Jasmine Quinn beat me by like 0.4,” Grant said. “I was like ‘Wow.’ ”
The season was a turning point for Grant mentally, Conway coach Shamae Hemingway said.
“The biggest thing is when you realize you have potential in something and decide now I‘m going to work and actually try to compete and improve at it,” Hemingway said. “That maturity and work ethic was the difference.”
The last two seasons Grant has been the lone Tiger to make it to the state meet. While she admits it’s difficult, Grant thrives on the fact she competes in two of track’s marquee events.
“It’s stressful, especially the 100 meters, which is the most stressful race,” Grant said. “You can’t mess up. In the 200 you can stumble a little because you have a little time to adjust. In the 100 you have no time to mess up.”
Grant said she’s received letters of interest from several colleges and has accepted an invitation to visit Duke. However, Grant said she wants to start garnering interest from Southeastern Conference schools.
She has one more year to impress and has set her sights on winning gold at state. Quinn, who has dominated those events recently, has graduated and will no longer stand in the way, leaving Grant as perhaps the favorite.
“I want to take gold in everything and take over [next year],” she said. “I’m going to work harder. I know there’s some things I could have done differently in training last year.”
Hemingway wants to see Grant continue to fine-tune her skills and focus more on the finesse aspects of running to build on her success.
“We’re very much proud of her,” Hemingway said. “We’ve seen that growth and we want her to just continue to grow and mature.”
Contact DAVID WETZEL at 626-0295.