By Heather Kuch
On Saturday, Jan. 26, the Ohio Wesleyan men’s track and field team competed in the Spire Midwest Indoor Track & Field Open meet where seniors Ethan Freet and Silas Jolliff each broke school records.
The meet was hosted by the Spire Institute in Geneva, Ohio, and featured teams from Division I, II, III and National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) universities. Freet and Jolliff competed in the 400-meter dash and finished first and second, respectively. Freet finished with a time of 0:48.36 and Jolliff finished with a time of 0:48.63. Each runner surpassed the previous school record of 0:48.70, set by Tyler Stillman in 2000. Freet and Jolliff then teamed up with senior Matt Martin and sophomore Brian Cook to place first in the 4×400-meter relay with a time of 3:15.37, the second-fastest time in school history.
Head coach Kris Boey said the team performed well given the tough competition, and Freet and Jolliff’s finishes were especially impressive.
“The Spire Midwest Open meet was high quality, with mostly Division I and II programs represented,” Boey said. “The fact that we finished 1-2 in the 400 and first in the 4×400 relay is an indication that our athletes are well-prepared and very competitive. The 4×400 ranks 2nd in DIII and it was the 2nd fastest time in school history.”
Freet said the meet went well overall and he was pleased with his performance, as well as those of his teammates.
“Silas and I had a good meet, as well as Matt and Brian on the 4×400 relay,” he said. “We accomplished the goals we set out to accomplish, and it took a little pressure off.”
Jolliff said breaking the record helped him realize what he was capable of and motivated him to run faster in the future.
“Ethan has the record technically now, so obviously I want to run faster to break it, but when I heard we both beat the previous school record I guess it solidified in my mind that we are able to run right up there at the national level,” he said.
Joliff added that he always admired Stillman, and that breaking the record made him more motivated and eager to see how much faster he can go.
Jolliff said he was happy with his finish in the 400, but he has also found some ways that he can improve and finish with even better times in the future.
“I thought the meet went well,” he said. “I was fairly relaxed going into the meet, but also nervous. But I’m usually always nervous before I run. It’s hard to run a perfect race so I think there were some things I could have done differently during the race to run faster, but that’s in the past and it gives me stuff to work on.”
Freet said his mentality going into the meet played a key role in his success.
“It was exciting to finally go out there and focus on running a good race,” he said. “Going into the meet, our mindset was more of a ‘Let’s see what we can do,’ as opposed to ‘We have to run a fast time.’”
Following the meet, Jolliff was named a North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) Men’s Sprinter of the Week last week. He was also ranked second in the NCAA Division III in the 400-meter dash at the time of the meet.
Jolliff said he is pleased with his accomplishments so far, but he also has big plans for the remainder of the season.
“(M)y main goal is to go to nationals and become an All-American in the 400 and the 4×400,” Jolliff said. “I’ve missed out on that four times now, barely, because of injuries and other things; so definitely becoming an All-American is my biggest goal.”
Freet said he has similar goals to Jolliff for the rest of the season.
“Going forward, I am just going to keep practicing and enjoying what I am doing,” Freet said. “My goal right now is to keep working on the 400 and to break the 4×200 record.”
Boey agreed with Jolliff and Freet, saying he does not expect his runners to be happy with where they stand. Boey said he plans for Freet, Jolliff and the team to continue to their success.
“I was pleased with the results,” Boey said. “We are focused on the process at this point, knowing faster time will come as the season progresses, but their efforts were impressive. However, we are not content and satisfied. Our goals are much bigger and we have work that remains unfinished. It’s the day to day details that have brought them this far and that will continue to allow Silas and Ethan to develop. The best is yet to come.”
Jolliff said he thinks the team as a whole will continue to improve, and he expects them to do well both within the conference and in national events.
“As far as the team I think we have a big season ahead of us as long as people stay focused and are practicing hard and doing the right things,” he said. “I think this year we will have a good representation at nationals, and at some of the bigger meets this year we will be tough opponents against other teams.
“I love running with all the people on the team and, I think we are gonna see some big things this year.”
Freet said he expects a lot from his team this season, and he thinks the support among his teammates will help them to be very successful throughout the remainder of the season and in post-season events.
“As a team I think this is the best we’ve been across the board since I have been here,” Freet said. “Everybody is running and competing extremely well at this point, and we are well ahead of where we have been in the past. People seem to be enjoying the atmosphere and being a part of the track team, and I think that that is a huge part of the success. I think that come conference time we should be right there competing for the top spot.”