By Rahim Thompson
Former Wichita State track and field athletes Austin Bahner and Tobias Boese along with Wichita East product Oliver Bradwell will compete Friday in the Shocker Prelude as the newest members of the Shocker Track Club Elite team.
For the past three years the Shocker Track Club served as a non-profit organization that has devoted time and provided an outlet to help former Shocker athletes purse their dreams of competing post-collegiately. Through the years the number of former Shocker athletes continues to grow, primarily due to the connection the club has with the Wichita State track program. John Wise assists as the head director of the program while also maintaining his duties as Wichita State’s sprint coach.
“For years we’ve had kids on our team that wanted to continue competing after college,” Wise said, “but at the time we didn’t have a system intact. Our idea was to create this club to give former Shocker athletes and people in our area something to belong to.”
It’s free to join the track club, but there’s a process involved. There are two teams: Elite and Developmental. To be a part of these teams athletes are required to submit an application that will be reviewed by the committee. After the application is reviewed, the committee will then take vote to decide if the athlete is an elite or developmental prospect – or neither.
This is a process both Bahner and Boise underwent; Bahner qualified for the elite team and Boese qualified for the developmental team.
“It’s extremely nice to have this kind of opportunity considering not a lot of schools or places have a track club,” Bahner said. “I had the idea of competing post-collegiately after the past couple of years of college track and field, so I was excited to hear about the Shocker Track Club when it first started. I participated in a meeting, received information about the club, and signed up. The board members determine if you are in the developmental or elite program in which I was recognized as an elite member.”
Though the Shocker Track Club is considered a team, both Bahner and Boise have had their share of adjustments with more responsibility being place upon them. Bahner said in the beginning it was more difficult staying dedicated, but he’s since found balance between work, social life and training. Bahner also added, “Scheduling is a lot different because the ultimate goal is to aim and peak at the big meets like USA Nationals and USA team meets that follow.”
Boese, who dealt with several injuries, believes he can flourish with the freedom to adjust training and scheduling to fit his needs, but is also enjoying his long awaited experience joining the track club.
“I had watched people prior to me to being on Shocker Track Club compete post collegiately,” Boise said. “I knew long before I graduated that I wanted to continue my track career after college track was done. It’s different from college in that there is no external pressure. I’m not trying to fulfill my scholarship and preform up to anybody’s standards but my own.
“The thing that keeps me going is what I call my ‘unfinished business’ – It’s my motivation. In college it was to win an MVC championship and qualify for NCAAs, now it’s to make a USA championship. I can’t wait to see what this year brings, and possibly, what the years to come have to offer. I’m just glad to be a part of team again and train around such a fantastic tradition at Wichita State.”
Bahner and Boese along with other Shocker Elite athletes will compete this Friday and the rest of the season in hopes of attracting sponsors and future donors.