DePaul track team broke seven school records in first five weeks back


DePaul Athletics

DePaul sophomore Olivia Borowiak broke the school’s 500-meter record during a track and field meet this season. The Blue Demons have broken seven records this season.

Five weeks into the track season, DePaul has already broken seven school records. The team continues to make up for the absence of last season and goes above and beyond, pushing their limits.

Head coach David Dopek discussed the struggles of competing during a pandemic and how his athletes have overcome barriers and reached a whole new level of success. 

“It speaks to me, the resiliency of the people we have on the team,” Dopek said. “We spend a lot of time trying to recruit not just athletic and academic talent, but trying to recruit character. That character helps them get through some of the obstacles that come in life and I don’t know if I’ve experienced a bigger obstacle than what we’ve had to deal with for the past 15 to 16 months.” 

Olivia Borowiak, a sophomore at DePaul majoring in writing and rhetoric, broke the school record in the 500-meter run. Borowiak believes a lot of her accomplishments have come from her work ethic during Covid-19.

“Since I was training alone, because of quarantine, I was growing from my training focusing on myself and how I can improve and feel like that has helped my success,” Borowiak said. 

Including Borowiak breaking the school record in the 5000m run with 16:53.09, there were three other females who broke school records. Tori Carroll set a new school record in the long jump with a mark of 6.15 meters. Kiersten Walker won the 400m with a season-best time of 55.02 seconds and Mackenna Orie set a school record in the discus, with a winning distance of 50.54 meters and proceeded to break another record in shot-put with 15.76 meters, ranking her first in the Big East.

Kyle Mastrangeli, a first-year graduate student majoring in computer science, broke the school record for 100-meter dash as well as a new school record in the men’s 4×100-meter dash with Brendan Van Voorhis, Ashton Calorie and Adam Nelson. Mastrangeli came back after his senior season was canceled last year. 

“It’s actually a blessing in disguise because I don’t think I would have ran nearly as fast as I am now,” Mastrangeli said. “It took me over a year to train and I just trained through everything and came back and wanted to do my best.” 

Mastrangeli is one of the many seniors who came back with an extra year of eligibility after DePaul’s track season unexpectedly shut down last year on March 13, 2020 because of growing Covid-19 concerns. Dopek said the department reached out to its past seniors to give them another season.

“I think the seniors who felt like they had unfinished business were very quick to express their interest and to the department’s credit and the university’s credit, they were able to provide that opportunity for the experience they’re having right now,” Dopek said. “We’re fortunate that a lot of them have put in so much work that they want to end their career on their terms, not Covid’s.”

While this year has held a lot of success, the struggles every sport is going through during this pandemic has affected the team’s atmosphere and experience. 

Borowiak has yet to experience a normal collegiate track season but is glad the school is taking the necessary precautions to protect their athletes.

“There are a lot of restrictions like how many people can be in the weight room, traveling socially distanced and there’s no spectators, so the atmosphere can be kind of dry,”  Borowiak said. “I feel that experience is missing but they do a good job with following guidelines and keeping us safe.”

Mastrangeli also believes this year has been hard connecting with the team compared to years before.

“I feel like the team’s really separated this year,” Mastrangeli said. “I feel like there’s, like, certain people on the distance team I’ve never even talked to who [I] don’t know their name, and [that] probably will never change because we’re never able to hang out.” 

While these struggles have made for a different season, DePaul’s track team’s precautions have helped them with avoiding any Covid-19 cases thus far. 

“We made it very clear in the first couple of weeks that if you put yourself in danger with Covid and something happened, that really condensed season could be it for you,” Dopek said. “If you have to quarantine for 10 days, and test your way out of quarantine, that’s two weeks of training that you missed and two meets that you’ve missed.”

The DePaul track team will prepare for the Big East Outdoor Championship, which will take place on May 14-15 in Geneva, Ohio. Dopek is expecting DePaul to come out strong and have many people make it to nationals.

There’s a lot of talent on the team and there are a good number of people who have exceptional talent who haven’t broken a school record yet, and we hope that changes in the next couple of weeks with the last of the meets that we have,” Dopek said. “It’s been a rewarding first five weeks of the season.”