* Will Conway won Detweiller at Dark in July, claiming a big early-season win
Photo Credit: Jorge Espinosa/MileSplit
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Who says it's too early to throw down in cross country?
Will Conway certainly hasn't minded the calendar.
The Floyd County (IN) senior, who sports a Craig Engels-inspired mullet, was the first athlete to put down a top performance this fall, clocking a sub-15 performance for 3-miles at Detweiller at Dark in Peoria, Illinois on July 30.
Two weeks later, he followed that performance up with another at the Valley Kick-Off on Saturday in Lavern, Indiana, winning the varsity race in 15:38.1, a full 18 seconds in front of William Bauschke, the runner-up from Mishawaka.
It marked Conway's first date with the Lavern Gibson Championship XC Course in 2023. It was also the same place where he ended his junior campaign in disappointment, with a 76th-place finish at the state championship. An injury may have curtailed some of those expectations.
"When we got to the hill, I threw in a little bit of a surge," Conway told MileSplit Indiana of his win at the Valley Kick-Off. "I eased up, I cruised it in. I was happy with the time."
It might be early, but Conway, a University of Tennessee recruit, is focused on the mission ahead.
He believes his training has put him in a place to compete for an Indiana state title.
"When people are doing really well early in the season like I have been, there are people saying 'He's doing this, he's doing that. He won't exist in October,'" Conway said. "That doesn't matter to me. Every mile I run is on Strava. You can go and see what I'm doing. I'll bet you'll be surprised how I'm training, how I'm racing."
Conway followed his cross country season with PRs in every distance he raced at, including times of 4:14.43 for the mile and 8:57.22 for 3,200m at the regional championships. He finished fourth in the 3,200m at the state championships, though he made a big early move against the field, including fellow Class of 2024 athlete Anthony Provenzano.
"Tony destroyed me at the state track meet," Conway said. "I went out super hard and it wasn't my day. I would love to see where I am against him. I'm very confident I'm right up there with him, even though I didn't show it this track season."
This season could yield a handful of top-end Indiana talents. Along with Conway, Carmel's Anthony Provenzano is a top runner, along with Brebeuf Jesuit's Cameron Todd, who was an All-American at Champs Sports National.
In due time, Conway will get his chance to race against both.
But in the meantime, he's making sure he's getting the job done this fall.
"There are some races I won't win, because my coach told me not to, not because I can't," he said. "At least every in-state race. My coach gives me the green light. I feel like I should win. I'm very confident in my training."