April 29, 2013
by Sara Roberts
Auburn Media Relations
For the Auburn men’s 4X100 meter relay team chasing records is all in a day’s work. Last season the team of Marcus Rowland, Harry Adams, Jeremy Hardy and Keenan Brock got a glimpse of life at the top and felt the devastation of watching it slip away.
In their first race of the 2012 season the team ran a 38.30, the fourth-fastest time in NCAA history. Their spectacular performance set the stage for what they thought would be a winning season, but unfortunately their peak performance came too soon. The team managed to win both the Texas and Penn Relays, but injuries later in the season led to lineup changes and disappointing performances at the SEC and NCAA Outdoor Championships.
With the success they saw in 2012 only motivating them further, the team is back and ready to take on the 2013 season headstrong. Just like last year, their main goal for this season is to win “The Big Four” [Texas Relays, Penn Relays, SEC and NCAA Championships], but now they’d like to break their own record, and staying healthy is the only way they’re going to get there.
“I think we all understand that the only way to win is to take care of ourselves and to be healthy,” Rowland said. “We’ve got the speed, but all it takes is one injured person to mess it up for all of us.”
While individual skill is a big factor for success, the camaraderie between the four sprinters can make or break the team.
“Relationships are critical,” said Auburn Track & Field head coach Ralph Spry. “In all sports everyone wants to be the superstar, but with the guys on this team they’re all great people. There are no egos, everyone is a team player, and when everyone is a team player the team is going to benefit.”
It only took a short time to see the depth of the relationship between the four sprinters.
“We have great chemistry,” said Rowland. “It’s nothing to where we’re four strangers. We know everything about each other. We’re around each other all the time, off the track and on the track. Yeah we get on each other’s nerves, we get mad at each other, we get jealous, but my best friends are on that relay team.”
Growing their relationships to where they are now took time, and they were only made stronger over the events of last season.
“It didn’t happen overnight, everybody knows that,” Adams said. “I know everything about them, what gets them going before a race and what gets them down. Same thing for me, they know almost everything about me. It took years to get to know all of that.”
Now that the season has officially started the sprinters find themselves adjusting to a different lifestyle that improves their physical health, and in turn their performances. While collectively they eat healthy and get enough sleep, they each have an individual approach to life when in-season.
For Brock it’s spending all his free time in his textbooks, Adams stops playing leisurely games of basketball, Hardy spends time making sure he’s mentally focused, and Rowland takes yoga class to stay loose.
With the awards they won last season it would be easy for some athletes to step away from the sport satisfied. The difference with this team is the strong motivation they have to keep going.
“It’s being at Auburn,” Brock said. “It’s having teammates that want to win and will push you, that’s the deciding factor.”