Like any freshman athlete, Victor Gras wanted to improve upon his high school achievements. Although he did not have concrete goals or specific time expectations before the school year began, he wanted to continue to lower his times.
After an outstanding prep career — he represented France at the 2004 World Junior Championships — his time at Michigan started on a positive note. He placed in the top-30 in his first three cross-country meets, and the start of his collegiate career was highlighted by a personal-best time of 25:06 and an eighth-place finish at the Spartan Invitational in September. But his season came to an unfortunate end when he began suffering from Achilles tendonitis, which forced him to miss the end of the cross country season.
“It was the first serious injury I have had to deal with,” Gras said.
After Gras received a medical redshirt for the cross-country season, coach Ron Warhurst was apprehensive about the freshman returning for the indoor season. So Warhurst redshirted him. Gras appreciated Warhurst’s decision to let him take three months off to allow his Achilles to heal.
“Instead of rushing me back for the indoor season, (Warhurst) said I could take my time,” Gras said.
After the respite, he started his training slowly.
“There was no point in rushing him to get him into running too fast indoors,” Warhurst said.
At the end of the indoor season, Gras competed as an unattached competitor in three meets. His best performance came in the Alex Wilson Invitational in South Bend on March 5. He ran a personal-best time of 8:10.70 in the 3,000-meter run.
“Now he is back up to the mileage, volume and quality,” Warhurst said.
As he continues his training, Gras is excited about the upcoming outdoor season.
“I am in the best shape of my life,” Gras said.
He believes that he is a much better runner than he was before his injury, and he hopes that his improvements as a runner will lead to a successful outdoor campaign.
“I want to make it to nationals and be healthy,” Gras said.
On an individual level, he wants to break the French junior record in the 1,500-meter run and win the European Junior Championships in Lithuania.
This season, Warhurst plans to run Gras in the 1,500- and 800-meter runs.
“He is a competitive young man, and he wants to compete,” Warhurst said. “I have no doubt that he will … start his career off where we anticipated he would start it.”
Gras will restart his Michigan career this Saturday as the team travels to Atlanta to compete in the Yellow Jacket Invitational at George Griffin Track.