Shane Streich wasn’t sure what to do.
He had been racing the 800-meter run for the University of Minnesota’s track and field team for five years and part of him yearned for ... something, he just wasn’t exactly sure what that something was. Regardless, the NCAA had just announced that athletes competing in spring sports would retain their eligibility for the 2021 season — logistically, they simply pretended as though 2020 never existed — due to the COVID-19 pandemic shutting down the season before it even began.
“At that point, I wasn’t exactly sure if I wanted to go back to school for a sixth year,” Streich recalled. “I knew if I did, it wouldn’t be at the University of Minnesota just because I felt like I needed a change of pace and, also, financially it wouldn’t have made sense. The crossroads were going back to school or pursuing the post-collegiate racing scene. Ultimately, I decided that I would want to go back to school if the right opportunity presented itself.”
Enter coach Nick Polk, Lipscomb University and the right opportunity.
A quaint private university located just off the intersection of Interstates 440 and 65 in southern Nashville, Tennessee, Lipscomb offered Streich everything he wanted and, in some cases, more. A structured training regiment that would help him achieve his goals? Check. An 11-month, fast-track MBA program that would set him up for success after his running career ended? Sure thing! A small school that placed emphasis on leading a Christian life? Absolutely. Oh, and the Bison’s track and field program had recent success at the national level. It was exactly the type of opportunity Streich simply couldn’t refuse.
While he had a solid five-year career with the Golden Gophers, there was little reason to expect that his sixth and final year of collegiate eligibility would turn out as successful as it ultimately did.
Multiple school records broken, a sixth place finish in NCAA Track and Field Championships and one All-American recognition later, Streich is considered as one of the best track and field athletes to ever don the purple Lipscomb ‘L’ on his chest.
While six years of patience and hard work were certainly driving factors for his success, Streich credits the dedicated training schedule and his team’s overall strong culture as the main forces behind his accomplishments this spring.
“I think that helped fuel the drive that I already had,” he said.
A typical week of training involves lifting weights on Tuesday and Thursday with speed and pace drills sprinkled throughout to help him improve his explosion on the track. His week is capped off on Sunday with distance running aimed at increasing his overall endurance. Having the right combination of speed, strength and endurance is key for succeeding during the grueling 800-meter run.
“There’s a lot of intentionality with each day of training in terms of getting the body ready, getting the mind ready, for races and being able to go far into the postseason,” he said.
For Streich, the next step is something he has always dreamed of, but didn’t necessarily think he’d ever be in the position to attempt: the Olympic Trials.
The Trials are set to begin on Friday evening in Eugene, the home of the University of Oregon and a Mecca, of sorts, for runners. Streich will be among the 32 athletes from around the United States competing in the 800-meter run with a shot on the Olympic team on the line. Finish in the top three with a time of 1:45.00 or faster and a spot on the squad is guaranteed. Streich set a new personal best during his sixth place finish at the NCAA championships with a run of 1:46.70.
Regardless of how the Trials play out, Streich is glad he has a chance to live out his dream.
“Even though it is, of course, a long shot in terms of making the Olympic team, I’m just happy to have the opportunity to race at the trials as it’s been a dream of mine,” he said.
He also hopes that his story will serve as motivation for his fellow athletes back in Waseca who have dreams of doing big things on the biggest stages, whether that be in sport or elsewhere.
“It just kind of goes to show that you don’t really need to be from the biggest school or the biggest university or the biggest city to find success in whatever path you so choose in life,” he said. “Obviously, this is on the extreme side of success, but it’s something I’ve always dreamed of doing. I’ve always dream about making it to the Olympic Trials. Even coming into this year, qualifying for the Olympic Trials was a very lofty goal and now it’s coming to fruition.”