GVSU’s 4×400 relay team continues to break records

Pete Barrows

Breaking four school records in a season is impressive. Breaking the same school record three times in a season is showing off. The Grand Valley State University men’s 4×400 team has decimated every fraction of a second they’ve come across this season and they don’t plan on slowing up any time soon.

The current mark to beat is 3 minutes, 13.86 seconds, the sixth-fastest time run in the Division II ranks this year, which the relay team paced in last week’s Big Meet. They did so without junior anchor Logan Hoffman, who is currently tending to a hamstring injury.

“I don’t know (what our ideal 4×400 team is), we’ll have to keep progressing,” said GVSU head track and field coach Jerry Baltes. “I think the positive thing is it really shows the depth of that group and it’s great to have options. Like this season, kids get hurt or tired or banged up.”

Juniors Nate Hammersmith, Chris Teitsma, Mohamed Mohamed and redshirt freshman Dan Pung comprised the most recent record breaking rendition. The absent Hoffman was pleased with their performance.

“I’m happy to see it go, definitely,” Hoffman said. “They broke the record, secured the spot – pretty good shape for nationals.”

Mohamed, who anchored in Hoffman’s stead, acknowledged the record as a sign of progress, but is also optimistic about what might be accomplished in his return.

“As a team, that was a big step forward,” Mohamed said. “We didn’t have Logan, who’s our best 400-runner time wise. It just goes to show that we can do it. We ran a time that honestly, if you asked us before the season, ‘what would you guys want to run?’ we’d probably say 3:13 and we’d be happy. But now with four guys and without Logan we ran that time. It sets us up to do great things in the future.”

With the stakes high and the competition heavy, it would be easy to envision that internal strife might become problematic at some point. Spending any amount of time around this laid-back team reassures that hubris will be kept to a minimum.

“We’re all pretty good friends,” Pung said. “We like to have fun here.”

The understanding that it’s the competition that enables the relayers to perform at their best has also helped to provide cohesion.

“It stays competitive and that’s how we stay fast, but no one’s going to hate someone else for taking their spot,” Teitsma said.

Who does the running is of little consequence. It’s the team that will take priority.

“We always tell our kids it doesn’t matter what four people it is for relays,” said sprints, hurdles and relay coach Keith Roberts. “It’s a team. You get out there and lay it on the line.”

With an outdoor season and another year of eligibility left for the core group of the team, the record breaking GVSU’s men’s 4×400 has their sights set on the record board that hangs below the operations booth at the Kelly Family Sports Center.

“I feel like everything happening is leading up to big things in the future,” Mohamed said. “It’s like a struggle, we have to go through what we’re going through. We never made it to nationals or any of that stuff, but we all ran well .I feel like we’ll get to nationals and set ourselves up for something better. I would rather not make it to nationals and win a national title than to make it every year and be short. The struggle pushes us to the future.”
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