“Hey, you’re tall and skinny, go jump those hurdles!”
This may have not been the exact phrasing given to fourth-year hurdler Grant Mlack by his middle school coach, but it was something close. His coach was not wrong, however, in assessing Mlack’s abilities as a hurdler, as he was a natural fit for the sport and could continue at Case Western Reserve University.
In his four-year career at CWRU, Mlack has top times in 110H (15.12) at the DIII All-Ohio Outdoor Track & Field Championships and in 400H (53.85) at the University Athletic Association (UAA) Outdoor Track & Field Championships. He has also received All-Region honors in the 400H from the United States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association.
According to Mlack, you must fail to succeed, and he himself failed plenty when he first started hurdling. He almost always fell during races with one of his most memorable spills occurring at a meet in Geneva, Ohio.
“My freshman year, I was running a 60-meter hurdle race and got tangled in a hurdle resulting in me falling to the track and sliding about six feet,” he said. “I got up and finished with a terrible time and a significant lack of skin on my leg. What you do after you experience a fall is what defines who you are as a hurdler in my mind.”
Falls will always happen to hurdlers, but Mlack hopes to make the most of every one.
As hurdling builds his perseverance and character, it also gives him an opportunity to take his mind off of academics. Mlack explained that UAA meets are a great chance to just let everything go and only focus on track.
When Mlack isn’t found on the track, you can often find him at Acts of Random Kindness (ARK) events. He is focused on bringing more happiness to the campus through planning where and what will be happening at the events ARK puts on.
Academically, Mlack is majoring in chemical engineering.
“In high school, my guidance counselors looked at me and said, ‘You like math, physics and chemistry, you would be a good chemical engineer,’ paraphrasing of course,” he said. “I chose to stay with the degree because of how it touches on material in lots of other engineering degrees.”
Although he does not know where he will be working after graduation, he is extremely excited to continue pursuing engineering.
Even though it is hard to find free time, Mlack loves any chance he gets to be in Sears [think]box, eat or play video games. He particularly loves going to think[box] just because of all the equipment available that can be used to create many different projects. Even if time is tight, finding just an hour is still a great time for him.
As he loves video games, Mlack ended his interview with a favorite quote from the title “BioShock:” “We all make choices in life, but in the end our choices make us.”
He said, “I believe that what we do defines who we are, so this hits home for me.”