The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

The official student newspaper of University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire since 1923.

The Spectator

    Maleniak sacrifices individual glory for distance relay team

    Anna Nelson

    Senior Rich Maleniak is going for the greater of two goods.

    During indoor track season he provisionally qualified for nationals in the 1-mile race. But the distance medley relay team he runs the 1500-meter leg on also provisionally qualified for nationals.

    Although qualifying to compete at the national level is a complement to one’s talents, it also poses a problem. Running both races in one meet at peak condition is nearly impossible.

    But Maleniak made the decision without batting an eye.

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    Even though he set the school record for the indoor mile with a time of 4 minutes, 12.9 seconds on Saturday, he decided to run with his distance medley relay team.

    “If we win the DMR, nothing really matters,” Maleniak said. “If we get last, I’ll definitely think about (the decision) a little more.”

    But there’s little chance the team will finish worse than third place, Maleniak said.

    The team that consists of senior Kevin Larson, junior Sean Gavigan, sophomore Graham Phillips and Maleniak is ranked third nationally. Its fastest time this year is 10:02, and the national record is 9:59.

    If Maleniak did choose the mile race at nationals, the competition would be much greater than in the relay. He also said the outdoor track season will provide him more opportunities to work on his mile race.

    “Our goal right now is to win nationals in the DMR,” he said.

    Winning is a goal in every race Maleniak runs in this year. This has changed a little since last year.

    “Prior to this year, I have focused on time,” he said.

    Going into a race with the goal of winning before getting a good time has helped the runner so far this season.

    Last weekend, Maleniak had the goal of not only winning the race, but also beating the school record for the indoor mile.

    “I felt I was ready to run a time that would qualify me for nationals,” he said, adding he knew he could beat all of his competitors.

    The attitude shift this year was just one of the changes in this indoor track season.

    In previous years, Maleniak ran cross country. His eligibility was up this year for the sport.

    “Rich is a guy that believes he can do things,” coach Scott Steuernagel said. “The biggest battle in collegiate sports is getting the athletes to believe they can win.”

    Maleniak’s pre-season training was pinched this year. A long battle with mononucleosis kept Maleniak off his feet until September.

    “I did not feel good,” he said. “I didn’t get as much training as I would have liked to.”

    The end of this track season will also be the end of the road at college. Although there will be no more organized track practices, Maleniak hopes to do some training on his own.

    “He doesn’t put any limits on what he can do,” Steuernagel said.

    As he looks for a job that applies to his chemistry major with an emphasis on business, he also hopes to find a city with an indoor track.

    “Maybe five years down the road I’ll be able to break the 4-minute mile,” he said.

    For now, Maleniak has his mark set on helping his team win the DMR. His goal for the team is no less than what he expects of himself.

    “We could run a time that could beat the national record,” he said of the medley relay team.

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    Maleniak sacrifices individual glory for distance relay team