Royal runners strive for progressCoach Rock’s “personal improvement” approach leading to Bethel’s strong season

April 28, 2014 | 4 p.m.

Coach Rock’s “personal improvement” approach leading to Bethel’s strong season 

Sports | Jared Nelson

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Junior Courtney Fregeau, seen here competing at the 2013 MIAC Championships, is a mainstay on the podium this year. Fregeau recently took second place in the 400-meter race in the Don Church Twilight hosted by Wheaton College. | Photo for The Clarion courtesy of Sports Information

Although typically categorized as a spring sport, Bethel’s track team has been competing since the new year, with household names like Matt Schafer and Zach Haskins posting great numbers for the Royals. Schafer and Haskins, both seniors, have been named All-Americans during their respective careers, and they’re looking to build on that success in their final season at Bethel. 

Head coach Andrew Rock preaches personal improvement for each of his athletes, knowing that, over time, it will benefit the team as a whole. 

“We’re just trying to get kids better than they are now,” Rock said. “If you work hard and do what you need to do as an individual, we’re going to be good, and we’re going to do well.” 

Rock said he gets just as much satisfaction seeing his runners improve over time as when his runners are successful in national meets. Although it’s only Rock’s second season in charge, the team is already reaping the benefits from the culture that he instilled since day one. 

The personal improvement has helped runners like Courtney Fregeau, who burst onto the scene last season as a sophomore and continued to be a mainstay on the podium this season as a junior. 

Fregeau, Schafer and Haskins all performed well enough to earn a spot at a national meet in Lincoln, Neb. in early March. Fregeau’s eighth-place, 56.63 time in the 400-meter was just .15 seconds slower than the school-record indoor time that she posted in the preliminaries, fast enough to grant her All- American honors. 

Haskins was equally as strong in Nebraska, finishing seventh in the mile with a personal best and school-record time of 4:10.69. The Maple Grove native capped his final indoor season with his third All-American award. 

During the beginning of April, the team was able to move outside and looked to carry the indoor momentum both individually and collectively. The unpredictable weather combined with the already short season doesn’t leave much margin for error in the final months. Looking back on the indoor season, Rock said he is extremely pleased with the way his athletes took advantage of the opportunities they were given. 

“What you do indoors affects what you do outdoors,” he said. “If you’re not prepared indoors, then there’s just not enough time to get really good outdoors.” 

In addition to the performances put forth by Fregeau, Schaefer and Haskins, the Royals have seen young runners step up, giving Rock plenty to be excited about for the years to come. 

“Ashley Magelssen has qualified for nationals in the sprint, and freshmen Jillian Krier and Nicole Balzer have shown that they’ll be impactful for us going forward,” Rock said. 

Fellow freshman Patrick Klamm has also put forth some impressive times as a part of the 4x400 relay that has enjoyed numerous top-three finishes so far this outdoor season. 

Most recently, the Royals competed in the Don Church Twilight hosted by Wheaton College. Magelssen and Fregeau stole the show for the women’s team that finished third out of nine teams. Magelssen took first in the 100- and 200-meter dash and led her 4x400 team to a first-place finish as well. She paired with Fregeau, Krier and sophomore Tessa Peterson to take first in the 4x100-meter relay. 

Fregeau also took home second place in the 400-meter dash and third in the 200. Her 57.07 in the 400-meter race is now a school record, and it places her at ninth in the country this season.

According to Rock, these top performances are all a result of the hard work that the athletes put in with intention of bettering their personal times. 

“As long as we keep improving personally, these things will happen for us,” he said. 

The Royals’ season continues next weekend as they send several athletes to Des Moines, Iowa to compete in the Drake Relays on Friday and Saturday. Those that are not going to Des Moines will run in the Janis Rider Invite at Macalester College on Saturday. 

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