The move to D-I adds pressure for runners to beat previous bests
NKU’s men’s track and field team traveled to the University of Tennessee last weekend to compete in the Sea Ray Relays. The team set many personal records and surpassed a few school records as well.
Seniors Ricky Harm and Brendan Chwalek set personal bests. Harm set his own personal best for the 10,000-meter run with a time of 31 minutes, 50.63 seconds. Chwalek set his personal best and the school record for the 3,000-meter steeplechase at 9:11.98, coming in at fourth in the event. He also helped the Norse get seventh place in the distance medley relay, the team had a time of 10:42.04.
Freshmen Jason Zavislak set a personal best in the javelin throw with 42.53 meters and freshman Tyler Mowery helped set a school record of under 18 minutes for the 4×1,500 relay.
The team keeps the same routine before meets by running two miles the morning before the meet and eating breakfast as a team at the hotel, according to Chwalek.
Since it’s the team’s first year as a Division I program, they have faced some challenges and different, more advanced competition than previous seasons.
“We get to travel to more competitive meets,” Chwalek said. “The quality of competition is a little better and there are more meets. Some of the meets in the south get more national recognition.”
Going into each meet the runners are expected to break personal and school records and always perform to that level, according to head coach Steve Kruse.
“Our team is very young,” Kruse said. “Our expectations, well we were holding our breath, we didn’t know how a majority freshman team would perform under pressure of D-I, but I’ve been very happy with the response from our youngsters.”
There is more added pressure to the returning athletes who were on the previous Division II team, the bar is much higher for them, according to Kruse. For the freshman team, it’s all new to them anyways so expectations are lower.
“The mileage is a lot more intense coming from a high school team to a D-I college team,” Mowery said. “There is a lot more you have to be involved with, like in high school, you just go to practice and leave and here you have to work and go to a whole lot of races just to watch. It’s a full-time thing.”
Mowery hopes to break his own personal records and follow in Chwalek’s footsteps because he’s an overachiever and effective role model for the team.
“My advice to our younger runners was to make sure they do what is required from our coach,” Chwalek said. “Knowing if they do what’s required, they will end up getting better; to work hard and keep a positive attitude.”
The team has two more meets before the Atlantic Sun Conference Championships on May 10 and 11. The next meet will be the Bluegrass Classic in Lexington, Ky. this Friday, April 19.