LANCASTER, Pa. – Last week at the Centennial Conference (CC) men's track & field championships, the Franklin & Marshall 4x800 relay team eased by the rest field and demolished a 23-year old CC Championships record in the process, but it is a high school rivalry that brought three of these runners together and is what makes sports worth caring about.
In 2011 at the PIAA State Track & Field Championships, F&M's Greg Olenginski and twin brother Luk Olenginski were competing for their Lewisburg High School relay team. Another high school that was represented at the Championships was Trinity High School, which is where fellow Diplomat Derek Pawlush attended.
That day, Lewisburg won gold and Trinity the silver in the 4x800 relay, but later in the day, Trinity took home gold and Lewisburg the silver in the 4x400 relay as the Olenginski twins and Pawlush raced against each other in both events.
The Olenginski brothers knew Pawlush had talent and that he was planning on attending F&M, but to play soccer, not to run track. The brothers wondered what the relay team would look like with Pawlush on the squad and the rivalry was left at a standstill until the second semester of their freshman year, when Pawlush decided to lace up the running shoes and give track a shot.
With the help of their position coaches John Stoudt and Tom Pearson, F&M won the CC indoor 4x800 relays in 2012 and 2013, and added a second-place finish at the 2014 championships. With the addition of Leo Generali, Pawlush and the Olenginski brothers captured the 4x800 relay race at the CC Championships on May 3, with a time of 7:40.46, crushing the old record of 7:49.10 from 1991. The same runners took bronze in the 4x400 relay with a time of 3:22.58.
Sometimes in sports, old rivals can become successful teammates at a higher level. Fortunately, Pawlush decided to run track at F&M and he, Generali and the Olenginski brothers have set an F&M record that could stand for years to come; that is, unless the team re-breaks the record in the 2014-15 season.