To hear their story first-hand, please watch the video above.
Burst to First
SHU Men's 4x800 Relay Claims NAIA Indoor Track National Championship
By Ryan Shircliff, Student Writer
The Siena Heights University men’s 4-by-800 relay team became part of an elite group after capturing a national championship at this spring's NAIA indoor track and field meet.
The foursome of senior Robert Banks and juniors Kent Laskowsky, Luke Pawlaczyk and Adrian Simmons ran a time of 7 minutes, 41.09 seconds to earn the national title for the Saints. The time also broke the old school record by more than two seconds.
“We had Banks pop off (start) and he got this opening,” Pawlaczyk said of his teammate. “He just accepted it and took off and ran away from them. Then he handed to Kent and he held them off. Then Adrian made up the gap, and he handed off to me in perfect position and we came away with the victory.”
“It’s great,” Simmons said. “We accomplished something everyone in Siena Heights history has been trying to do. We went through cross country that coach (Tim Bauer) made us do that none of wanted to do, and accomplished what we set out to do.”
The relay team ran nearly the entire indoor track season pushing the limit of the old record before breaking through at nationals, and they couldn’t have picked a better time.
“We’ve always had a strong tradition in the 4-by-800 relay,” Coach Bauer said. “We’ve been probably anywhere from sixth to fourth numerous times, and it’s always the same schools that are up there to beat us. But this year the guys really came in with the mindset, ‘you know what, we’re tired of getting fourth and third and we’re going to try to win this thing.’ And that was the mindset, and that’s what we trained.”
Bauer and the Saints take a little different approach than many other small schools. Siena Heights often runs with the top large-school programs in the country like Michigan, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Eastern Michigan to stay competitive.
“We run against some pretty tough people,” Bauer said. “We took those guys to some bigger meets like Akron, and it just helped them get ready and prepare for that challenge. We always run against good people and that’s why we do it. We love to win our conference, which we did. But really, for the student-athletes, it’s about how far they can go.”
The 4-by-800 relay team became the 50th indoor track All-Americans at Siena and the 12th national champions in school history. The foursome is also the first Siena male track athletes to win a national championship since Adam Hartle in 2005. It was also first relay team at Siena to do so.
“For me being here four years and running on all the relays and coming up a little bit short, it was great to finally get the job done,” Banks said.
The relay members also praised their teammates and coaches for the major accomplishment.
“They’ve (coaches) been pushing us all along,” Laskowsky said. “Every time we get a little weak, they get after us and make us get in the weight room after practice. Our teammates are pushing us everyday in practice.”
To watch the video of the 4x800 men's relay national championship race, click here.