CLASS OF 2019: Track-and-field phenom Steven Conrad to be inducted into Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame
When Steven Conrad was growing up he always wanted to be the fastest kid at his school.
Turns out he usually was, and he’s got the records to prove it.
Conrad’s drive to be the fastest in his class coupled with his passion for competing in track and field led to one of the most decorated athletic careers in Nevada Union history.
“I was very driven by wanting to prove people wrong,” Conrad said. “I was told I couldn’t be fast for a lot of reasons, so a lot of what drove me to run faster was because I wanted to be the dark horse and show them that I could do it, too.
“When people told me there was something I couldn’t do, I did everything in my power to do that.”
During Conrad’s time at Nevada Union, he set school records in the 100-meter dash, 200 meters, long jump, 110-meter hurdles, as a member of the 4×100 relay team and as a member of the 2001 Sac-Joaquin Section championship winning 4×400 relay team.
“Steve was an incredible talent and a really great guy,” said Jefferson Heidelberger, a member of the section-winning 4×400 relay team with Conrad and fellow inductee. “I think he might be the best athlete I’ve ever come across. He could literally do it all and he was the best at most things he attempted … He was so strong and so fast, and he was a real joy to watch.”
Conrad, a 2004 Nevada Union graduate, was named the Miners Rookie of the Year in his freshman season, the Most Outstanding Field Athlete as a sophomore, the Most Outstanding Track Athlete his junior year and the Most Outstanding Senior Athlete in his final season. In his senior season, he was the only athlete in California to qualify for the State Meet in four events (100m, 200m, 110m hurdles and long jump).
For his efforts in track and field at NU and beyond, Conrad is being inducted into the Nevada Union Athletics Hall of Fame April 27.
“It means a lot,” Conrad said. “Especially looking at the names of the other people being inducted. It’s exciting to see that I was in that same list and pool of people.”
‘SPRINGS IN HIS LEGS’
Conrad’s athletic ability was obvious early on. Former Lyman Gilmore and Nevada Union tack and field coach Nordis Ostrom first noticed Conrad on the basketball court in sixth grade. They both confessed he wasn’t very good at basketball, but he was running faster and jumping higher than all the other kids on the court.
“He had springs in his legs that you cannot imagine,” said Ostrom, who coached Conrad in junior high and high school. “He was just so fast and fluid, it was a beautiful thing to watch. He was a phenomenon. He did more than any of us expected. He was extremely coachable and he was really a student of the sport.”
Conrad made his presence known early on at NU, when he was added to the 4×400 varsity relay team as a freshman. He worked tirelessly to improve on a daily basis and it paid off with a school record and section title in the event.
“It was just a huge moment and I just remember all of us coming together and jumping and celebrating,” he said.
Conrad’s dedication to educating himself in the sport was instrumental in his success as he was always looking for an advantage through knowledge. By the time Conrad’s senior season came around he was peaking in many of his events, which led to an outstanding showing at the Sac-Joaquin Section finals.
“For most of those events, they were lifetime bests. I never ran faster in college because I switched over to the decathlon, which requires a much broader spectrum of skill sets, so you can’t hyper focus on speed,” he said. “I never ran faster or jumped further than I did in that meet.”
LIFE AFTER NU
Conrad went on to attend and compete for the University of California, Berkeley, where he became a decathlete.
He lettered all four years at Cal, helped set the school record in the 4×400 relay, earned a full-ride scholarship in 2007, and was 11th in the decathlon at the NCAA Division I Championships in 2007.
Conrad got a degree in sociology from Cal, and later added a degree in kinesiology from Chico State, which he now implements as a high school and masters coach as well as founder of Speed Academy in Grass Valley.
Conrad is now dedicated to passing on the knowledge he has accumulated over the years to aid all ages of track-and-field athletes.
He is currently the strength and conditioning coach at Nevada Union as well as an assistant coach for track and field, and he also coaches the local Sierra Gold Masters team.
“I think the most special thing about Steven is he has a gratitude gene that’s just huge,” Ostrom said. “He really wanted to come back to this community and help the kids. He’s a phenomenal coach. He’s a kind person and a great humanitarian.”
Conrad is far from done competing though. The 33-year-old was the Masters National Indoor Champion in the high jump and long jump in 2016, and the National Indoor Champion in the long jump in 2018. He was an All-American in the long jump in both 2016 and 2018.
Conrad, who lives in Grass Valley with his wife Rachel, said he’s very appreciative of the coaches he’s had along the way as well as the support he got from his parents, who helped him develop healthy eating, sleeping and training habits early on.
To contact Sports Editor Walter Ford, call 530-477-4232 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
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User Legend: Moderator Trusted User
New season. New co-head coaches. Same expectations.