Men’s 4×4 relay team aims for victory at nationals.
By Molly Korzenowski
Shawn Monroe, a sophomore missional ministries major, leans in position as he waits for his teammate Karl Olsen to finish his jaunt around the track. As he waits for the baton to reach his fingertips, Monroe takes a minute to pray for strength and maybe even success. But no matter how it all turns out, he does it for his teammates and the glory of God.
The Bethel men’s 4×400 relay team has returned more vigorous and motivated than ever this year after they were named runner-up in the 2017 national meet. The team consists of three sophomores and a senior who are giving it all they’ve got with mind, body and spirit as they work toward their goal to take first place at nationals this season. The runners refer to practice as their “jet fuel,” but in the end it’s their teamwork and friendship that keeps them sprinting towards victory.
“There are three guys behind me in the race who I know are gonna fight for the common goal,” said Karl Olsen, the senior math and physics major who runs the first leg of the race.
He is a seasoned track athlete and captain who, according to head coach Andrew Rock, helped cultivate the culture of the team. Every team member goes out of their way to connect with one another and conquer their objective together.
“They believe in each other and they’re fast runners, but they are unbelievable people as well,” Rock said.
Rock says the team is a success because they refuse to become complacent. They bound through each lap with equal energy no matter if it’s practice or race day. To them, it doesn’t matter what their times were last week or even last year. The team always looks at the next race as a chance for improvement and opportunity.
“We always try to focus on the next race,” said Isaac Erickson, the third leg runner and a sophomore BTS major. “We don’t look too far ahead.”
Instead of focusing on how fast the competition is, the team focuses solely on improvement and how hard they can work to make their goal. They can’t control how fast the other team is, they can only advance their own speed and agility.
“They race to a standard of excellence,” Rock said.
Before a race, the team members do many things to brace themselves for the challenge ahead. On the physical side, they are sure to do three things right: eat well, sleep well, and stay hydrated. According to Olsen, keeping these areas in check daily contributes immensely to the success of the team. Along with this, support of teammates always makes the process more enjoyable.
“It’s hard to run fast when you gotta train alone,” said Carl Klamm, a sophomore computer science and software project management major.
But, perhaps more importantly, the spiritual or “Bethel-ish” side of their training is what pulls the team through. All four members on the team can all agree that they are running to bring glory to God no matter what happens.
For the team, competing isn’t all that happens on the track. Being able to constantly travel together on the route to nationals has created a unique bond between team members. They find that no matter how difficult the challenges they face, it’s better to go through it with friends they can confide in and rely on.
“We get to do the journey together one step at a time and it’s so much fun,” Olsen said.