Seniors Silas Jolliff and Ethan Freet have been pushing each other almost every week for more than two seasons, and it has culminated in the duo holding the top two spots in the NCAA Division III rankings in the 400-meter dash.
Jolliff, who has been at Ohio Wesleyan since his freshman year, and Freet, who transferred to OWU from the University of Cincinnati after the 2010 season, have formed a close friendship over the past few seasons.
Jolliff did have some concern when Freet first came to OWU during their sophomore year.
“It was nervewracking at first, but it ended up being a good thing overall,” said Jolliff.
The duo may be seen as a friendly rivalry from the outside. However, Jolliff and Freet don’t consider themselves rivals; just friends.
In fact, it’s almost as far away from a rivalry as could possibly be.
“We don’t like racing each other,” said Freet.
Often, the two of them are among the fastest runners in a given event, and will race each other in the fastest section of the event as a result.
Both agreed that running against one another in practice every day wears on the appeal of competing against each other on race day.
However, when they do race against each other, Jolliff said that they “push each other a lot” and it has probably helped them run the best races they can.
One of the things Freet enjoys about Jolliff and the rest of his teammates and coaches is their supportive nature, something he didn’t find much of at Cincinnati.
“At Cincinnati, when we broke the 30-year-old school record in the 4×4, the coaches made jokes about how we could have done better if I had run faster… Here, everyone understands that every point counts and no one would make jokes about another athlete running too slow, especially in a school-record-breaking effort,” said Freet.
Both athletes are confident that they can make the national championship meet in the 400-meter dash as well as the 4×400-meter relay.
Right now, Freet and Jolliff have times of 49.27 and 49.36, respectively. Both those times would have qualified for the indoor championships in 2010 and 2011, but last year they would not have made it to the meet on those times. Jolliff has been to the national meet in the 400-meter dash before, qualifying for the meet his freshman year.
The top 13 times in the nation in an individual event qualify for the national championship meet.