At the Lee Calhoun Memorial Invitational last weekend, the Marquette men’s sprinters took first in the sprint medley relay. They left the second place finisher three seconds behind.
The sprinters, junior Tyler O’Brien, sophomore Kyle Winter and freshman Connor Stengel and Aryan Avant, had been practicing the relay for only a couple of weeks, and they will only run it competitively once more this year.
The 1,600-meter sprint medley relay, or SMR, is a relay race that consists of two 200-meter legs that are run back-to-back, followed by a 400-meter leg, and an 800-meter leg.
“The sprint medley relay is an event that isn’t super common,” coach Bert Rogers said. “But it’s one that you see a lot at events like Drake relays, which is actually where you see the greatest amount of this race in Marquette’s history.”
Winter believes this group is so successful because of its versatility to choose who runs what leg of the event.
“We, for the most part, can pick and choose who we want to run where,” Winter said, “not so much with Tyler and I since we will be running the 200 and the 800. But if Connor or Aryan are running one event better than the other, then we can put them there and know that they will run just as well in the other event.”
Despite the success, this group of athletes wasn’t even supposed to run this event together. But Rogers said the coaching staff decided to put the team together only when it realized it had the option of running the event before the Drake Relays.
“It was really a matter of looking around and just realizing that we had good personnel for it,” Rogers said. “I mean, for starters you have Kyle who is really strong on the 800, and something that you really need is a strong 800 leg.
“Then we felt like with Tyler, Connor, and Aryan, (that) we had three guys who could cover the two 200 legs and the 400 very well – especially as the weeks unfold; the guys just keep getting better.”
Rogers believes this group has a good chance of breaking the school record, which was set in 1981, especially since there was a near handoff blunder between Stengel and O’Brien.
“It will take improving both the 400 and 800 legs,” Rogers said. “And I’m sure that we lost a second on the handoff between Connor and Tyler. But if we can have a couple guys drop a second to a second-and-a-half, then we are right in the ballpark.”
Though they are a successful foursome in the event, it is the uniqueness of the event that makes it appealing to Winter and O’Brien.
“I think it’s just kind of a fun break (from the norm),” O’Brien said. “I do the 200 leg, and I get to run it with the other guys, so it’s a good time.”
The group will not compete in the event again until the Drake Relays, which begin April 28 and continue through April 30.