In June, four GFS boys—Colin Riley '18, Eli Schwemler '17, Jonnie Plass '17, and Nick Dahl '17—beat every other competing school in the country to take the National Championship in the Boys DMR (distance medley relay) at the New Balance Nationals.
What's their secret to success? Coach Conrad Haber says the key on race days is to keep it fun. "When we're in the paddock, you see other guys that are laser-focused. Our whole goal when they're waiting is to keep them loose. Our guys are joking around and acting goofy. They're so analytical, they don't need the extra pressure."
This is Conrad's first year at GFS, taking over from Rob Hewitt. Conrad says, "Rob built something fantastic here at GFS, so while he and I are very similar in terms of training, there was an added pressure of expectations; if these kids mess up, it's my fault. For it to come together at the end this way, to culminate this way, it highlighted things we've been preaching: race the race that you're in, don't force anything, don't chase the clock, the purpose of racing isn't to get a fast time—it's to win."
The DMR is composed of a 1200 meter leg (three laps on a standard 400 meter track), a 400 meter leg (one lap), an 800 meter leg (two laps), and a 1600 meter leg (four laps) in that order. The total distance run is 4000 meters, or nearly 2.5 miles.
Conrad broke down their winning race: "Colin's job was to keep within five seconds of the leader; Eli to maintain; Jonnie, to bring us up to within two seconds of the leader; and Nick was to bring it home. We had the fastest back half half of any relay team in the race; everyone did their job. Colin was within three seconds of the lead, Eli maintained, and Jonnie put us into the lead. Nick went out in under 60 seconds like he was saying 'I dare you to catch me.' He's a sub 4:10 guy and had the fastest mile credentials in the race. The first 800m was so fast that the rest of the field dropped off and fought for second."
Looking ahead to next year, Conrad says, "The goal is to qualify for indoor states in DMR. We want to continue the tradition of GFS being a team-first squad, so we will be focusing on the relays instead of the individual events."
Photo credit: Jeffrey Sides for MileSplit