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Wrobel tops off track career with trip to nationals
By Nate Triezenberg

Four years of running and training in the challenging mid-distance events finally paid off for Calvin senior Alex Wrobel: a trip to the NCAA III Championships was his ultimate goal.

“My past success in track has been a blessing, but it has also been difficult,” he said. “Even though I have had good conference success, I have missed making the national meet three times, either in the 800 meters or the mile, by less than a second. It has taught me to remain humble as I was forced to remember that hard things take time to do. I have also learned how to take pleasure in other teammates’ performances, especially at the national level.”

But this year it was Wrobel, of Arden Hill, Minn., making the trip to Delaware, Ohio, and earning an 11th-place finish in the 1,500 meters.

While that experience puts an exclamation point at the end of his track and field career, there were other highlights along the way.

“The MIAA championships is a great event because it is all about the team competing as one, not worried about times,” he said. “Rather we are focused on a collective effort of beating the other team lined up next to us. It is a great chance for the sprinters, jumpers, throwers, mid-distance and distance to compete all with the same goal of winning—and it really brings a team together when that happens. To have won all four years is an incredible feat and is something that I will always remember.”

Wrobel aided that team effort: he won the MIAA title in the 800 meters as a freshman, as well as winning MIAA titles in the 1,500 meters his sophomore and junior year.“Running with the middle distance runners has been so much fun,” he said. “Middle distance is a bunch of laidback guys—outside of workouts and races—that knows how to have fun and yet can turn it on when it counts.”

Teamwork has brought much success to the program but as Wrobel is quick to point out, the coaching staff helps the middle-distance core just as much as the runners do. “(Middle distance) Coach Rick Otte is an amazing guy; he ties together the diverse, rag-tag group of middle distance runners with his laid back yet competitive personality, love of basketball and brilliant workouts. He also infuses us with lots of energy and always knows exactly what to say before a race to get us going.”

The track experience for Wrobel has been duplicated on the cross country team “Cross country has been a great team experience with a bunch of really cool guys,” he said. “Being a part of the Calvin cross country team has been a blessing because of the team atmosphere that is so prevalent. Without the guys on the team, running and racing would not be as meaningful and fun; we push each other to be the best runners that we can be to glorify God with our talents.”

Though athletics have been a big part of Wrobel’s life, academics have also played an important role in his development and his choice to come to Calvin.

“I chose Calvin because of its combination of the excellent running program, the science division’s good reputation and the wonderful Christian atmosphere,” he said. Wrobel, who is majoring in chemistry, has been accepted into the Memphis Teacher Residency program. There he will co-teach in a high school chemistry class as well take classes toward a master’s degree in urban education for the first year of the program. After the first year, he will remain in the Memphis City School District teaching chemistry in his own classroom in a high school.

An All-MIAA and Great Lakes All-Region selection in cross country last fall, Wrobel will first return for one more cross country season during the upcoming fall as he missed his first-year cross country campaign with an injury. “Next year we strive to do the same, but our tangible goal is to win the national title,” he said. “We have a lot of motivated and talented runners coming back that should make for an exciting season.”