The track inside Jake Christiansen Stadium may be covered in snow and ice, but for sophomore David Supinski and the rest of the track & field team, the season is in full swing. Supinski broke two Concordia indoor track records at a meet in Fargo two weeks ago.
The Baxter, Minn., native ran his way to a new school indoor records in the 400 and 600 meter dash at the NDSU Bison Open Feb. 3-4. Supinski knew going into the race against scholarship runners from Division I and NAIA schools that the competitive field would be strong.
“It can be tough sometimes to only face Division I and II athletes week in and week out,” Supinski said. “Going into a race knowing I’m not the fastest changes my gameplan a little bit. You have to give up the reins sometimes, which doesn’t always feel good, but it isn’t always a bad choice.”
While most meets take place over the course of one day, the meet at NDSU was a two-day affair spread between Friday and Saturday. Supinski ran the 600m dash on Friday night, finishing second with a PR time of 1:21.67. The time smashed the previous school record — set by Supinski last season — of 1:22.63.
Before Supinski’s record-breaking performance last season, the 600m dash record of 1:22.74 — set by Mike Ranum in 1979 — stood for 37 years.
“It’s a cool feeling [owning the school record in the 600m], but it comes with the added pressure of everyone expecting you to perform,” Supinski said. “Suddenly, getting a PR — which is pretty standard for some people — is a new school record. It doesn’t change how I run at all, but it’s a different mentality.”
After breaking his own record Friday night, Supinski had a night to rest before coming back the next day for his second event: the 400 meter dash.
“It was nice. I had time to come back, get some sleep, and start a whole new meet on Saturday,” Supinski said.
Supinski broke his second school record of the weekend on Saturday when he finished third in the 400 with a time of 49.59. The time broke the previous record of 50.45, set by Bryce Smith in 2008. With the mark, the sophomore became the first Cobber to break 50 seconds in the event.
Concordia Men’s Track and Field coach Garrick Larson highlighted Supinski’s progress since coming to Concordia.
“He was a little bit off last year. Even though he broke the record in the 600, he hadn’t really matched what he had done in high school,” Larson said. “The transition to college, the different training, some knee issues. This year he’s definitely more fit. That extra year of training makes all the difference in the world.”
Supinski’s health has been a key aspect of his success since undergoing a hip surgery in high school that forced him to miss his sophomore track and junior cross country seasons.
“It was actually a very smooth recovery,” Supinski said. “That first year I noticed that I wasn’t quite where I wanted to be at, but there’s been no looking back since. It was a great decision on my and my parents’ part to get that surgery done and get me on my way again.”
The Brainerd High School product is one of several members on the Men’s Track & Field squad who are making strong starts to the year. Senior Matthew Lillehaugen broke the school indoor record in the 1000 meter dash on Jan. 28 at Concordia’s home meet with a time of 2:30.91. The time surpassed the previous school mark set 28 years ago by Greg DeFor in the 1988 season.
“The 1k was definitely the most vulnerable record for someone with my skill set, and even that wasn’t a given,” Lillehaugen said. “Beyond that, it would take a pretty remarkable race for me to even come close to breaking any of the others.”
Other Cobbers with strong starts to the year include Eli Beachy, Jackson Schepp, and Matt Bye. Coach Larson likes the core group of athletes that make up his team.
“They’re not out there to necessarily beat each other in a workout or beat each other in a meet, but they’re definitely out there to help make each other better,” Larson said.
Both the Men’s and Women’s Track & Field teams will be back in action Saturday, Feb. 18 at the UND Indoor Tuneup. The meet will be the first indoor meet held by North Dakota since the spring of 1985 as the Fighting Hawks christen their new indoor track facility.