Hard work leads to All-American status
April 4, 2011 —
After leading Pinckney High School to four undefeated seasons, Tyler Grob came to SVSU ready to win.
During his high school career, Grob, a team captain, led his mile relay team to three league and two regional championships, was named all-conference twice in the pole vault and ended his senior year with two all-state performances: a third place finish in the pole vault and a fifth place finish in the mile relay.
But it didn’t take Grob long to discover that that college athletics would present a whole new challenge.
“When you come in as a freshman, in your own head, you think you’re ‘the man,’ and I had that syndrome a little worse than most,” Grob admitted. “But then after a couple of meets, I got humbled a little bit.”
For Grob, now a sophomore, it was his ability to respond to those humbling experiences that set the foundation for his success.
“I think every freshman comes in and they realize that they’re not the best guy at the meet anymore,” Grob said. “Toward the end of my freshman year, I started to realize what kind of work it would take to succeed at this level.”
Grob’s dedication paid off.
On Feb. 26, Grob became a conference champion yet again, this time at the collegiate level, winning the heptathlon at the 2011 GLIAC Indoor Championship. His score of 5031 qualified him for the NCAA Division 2 Indoor National Championships on March 11-12, where Grob finished fifth to earn All- American honors.
“The whole thing was just kind of surreal and pretty awesome,” said Grob, SVSU’s lone representative at the national meet. “I’ve still got a lot to learn to keep up with those guys who finished in front of me.”
To do so, Grob will continue to work in coach Rod Cowan’s program, which Grob credits as one of the reasons for his success.
“That’s the big difference from this year to last year: I was able to get in coach Rod’s system and really build my base, speed and acceleration,” Grob said. “I’ve never been the first guy out of the blocks, but I’m starting to beat people in the beginning of races instead of just catching them at the end.”
Because of the many different skills required to compete in the heptathlon, training for the event can be demanding.
“I live at the Ryder Center,” Grob said. “If you ask any athlete on campus when they’re in their championship season, they just never leave that place.”
Grob said that practice usually starts at 6:30 a.m., when he and the other multi-event athletes begin with a sprint-oriented warmup. Afterward, Grob lifts in the weight room and then practices either speed work or a field event.
Then he begins his actual workout.
“Certain parts of the week are geared toward certain aspects like sprinting, endurance or acceleration,” the exercise science major said. “I’ll normally finish the day with core work, another field event and technical work.
“I’ll go to my classes and come back to do an auxiliary lift and more technical stuff. Then I usually run a couple of miles and go home.”
Despite the hard work, Grob said that keeping focus during the week is key.
“It takes a toll on your body,” Grob said. “I get enough free time and I have a pretty good social life, but during the week, it’s time to work.”
Grob’s work ethic will be vital in order for him to achieve his goals for the outdoor track season, when he will be competing in the decathlon.
“It was cool having the experience [at indoor nationals], but now that I’ve been to one, I want to go to outdoor [nationals] this year and win it as a sophomore,” Grob said. “I had that taste a few weeks ago and now I just want to win.”
But Grob isn’t just thinking about the upcoming season.
“By my senior year, I want to be at the top of all divisions in the heptathlon and decathlon,” he said. “If I could do this postcollegiately, that would be even better. “I want to be ‘the man.’”
Grob and the Cardinals kicked off their outdoor season Saturday, April 2, at the MSU Spartan Invitational, where Grob anchored the 4x400 meter relay team, finishing fourth.
They compete again Saturday, April 9, at the FSU Bulldog Invitational at Ferris State University.