Olympic gold medalist Andrew Rock settles in as head coach
Sports | Jared Nelson for The Clarion
Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Carl Schmuland
While snow blankets the ground and the temperature remains frigid, Bethel’s track and field team is hard at work competing in the indoor season.
Track is a two-season sport, starting just after the new year and continuing until finals week for athletes who choose to participate in both the indoor and outdoor events.
The Royals’ indoor season is off and running under first-year coach Andrew Rock, a former Olympic athlete and gold medalist. The team has had strong showings in meets in the Twin Cities as well as hosting two meets of its own.
“Even with a few injuries to some of our key athletes, we’re off to a great start,” said junior sprinter Matt Davis. “We have contributions coming from a lot of different places this year. Our freshmen are looking good, Marshal Lortie and Eli Chapple, to name a few. We also have had strong showings from returners like Rob LeMay.”
LeMay spent the month of January studying abroad without much training for the season, but he hit the ground running upon his return, earning a first-place finish in the 400-meter event as well as placing fourth out of 35 qualifiers at the Darren Young Classic held at Grinnell College on Feb. 9.
The Royal making the most headlines so far this season is senior Zach Haskins. The distance runner has taken home first-place finishes at each meet this season, performing well enough to earn a national qualifying time in the 1-mile run. Haskins ranks No. 5 nationally in the event.
Davis credits much of the team's early success to Rock and his insight on individual strategy.
“It sounds dumb, but there is more to track than just running as hard as you can for the entire race,” Davis said. “We really appreciate his leadership, and we’re looking forward to the remainder of the season with him.”
Just as the athletes appreciate the way Rock has begun his tenure, the coach is grateful for the people he is able to work with and credits them with making him feel welcome.
“I think the track team has a unique bond because of what we believe in, and we get the opportunity to share that belief with each other,” Rock said. “I have always thought Bethel athletes represented the university well, and my impression has been confirmed since I have become the coach.
It’s clear that Rock commands the respect of his athletes because of both his achievements and his leadership. Rock has enjoyed success with the Royals thus far, and he hopes it will continue as the team completes the indoor season and heads outside in the spring.
“We want to compete as hard as we can, because we never know who we are influencing just by the way we carry ourselves and by the way we compete,” Rock said. “We, as track and field athletes and coaches, have a gift, and I believe we have an obligation to take that seriously in how we influence others. We want to be the best we can be and improve every week."