Marquette cross-country coach Mike Nelson still remembers Connor Callahan showing up to the first team practice with a broken arm. He was a freshman coming from DeSmet Jesuit High School in Missouri with an open mind and room for growth.
By the time he was a sophomore, his mind was set on attending medical school, and every step taken from then on was geared in that direction. He shadowed a surgeon after his freshman year and received confirmation at that point that he was ready for a challenge.
This past summer, Callahan interned at the Meyo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. The summer program takes 80 undergraduate students to work with scientists to assist and observe biomedical research.
“It was really eye opening,” Callahan said. “They do a lot of high tech research and medical care, so it was nice to see that.”
His daily schedule during the summer had him waking up at 5 a.m. to run. He would arrive at his internship and focus on several cardiovascular labs. He would typically return home around 6 p.m. only to go back out and run again. Nights would be spent studying for the Medical College Admission Test (MCAT).
“Studying was brutal, but it seemed to work out,” Callahan said.
Nelson has noticed that since early on, Callahan has been in “med-school mode.”
“He is very serious about going to medical school because that is no easy task,” Nelson said. “This isn’t a guy that it would be an accident if he gets into medical school. This is a guy that’s making it happen.”
Callahan was quick to send in his application for the exam and then started to apply to multiple schools. He is currently in the process of interviewing with schools that have shown interest in having him.
He has already interviewed with Washington University in St. Louis and will be meeting with the Medical College of Wisconsin at the end of the month. He could hear back from more schools at any point from now until March.
There is still time in the application process before Callahan makes his decision. A lot of that time will be filled with running since he has indoor and outdoor track eligibility left for the upcoming seasons.
In his first year of medical school, there is a chance for him to continue to train at a high level. He says he will always continue to run and hopes to use the lighter first year to ride his collegiate training for a half-marathon.
Nelson says he would be shocked if Callahan did not run around 2 hours and 20 minutes for the marathon. That would be faster than Nick Szczech’s 2:22.17 posted to win the 2011 Lakefront Marathon, the fastest by a runner under Nelson.
“(Callahan) has that type of drive and that work ethic,” Nelson said. “I think he’ll find that, although he’ll be busy in medical school, running can be a stress reliever for him.”
After four years of running hills at practice and countless tempo and threshold runs, Callahan’s time at Marquette as a cross-country runner is coming to an end. Nelson is pleased that the underclassmen are able to look up to him now.
“Having success is not an accident,” Nelson said. “You go out there and make it happen, and I think Connor is the definition of that.”