Gielczyk: Manistee Grad Tyler Peck Excelling at Olivet College

Playing football and competing on the track team is a little easier to do in high school than it is in college, but 2017 Manistee graduate Tyler Peck has enjoyed success at both for Olivet.

A kicker for the Comets football team, Peck has managed to balance the demands on his time for spring ball and off-season conditioning, while still excelling in the 400-meter dash as well as run on the 1,600-meter relay squad.

It wasn’t a smooth beginning, however.

He was injured his freshman season, the result according to Comets’ track coach Karen Lutzke of his not being used to doing so much and having not perfected balancing doing both.

“As a multi-sport student athlete (Peck had a 4.0 grade point average for the spring term), practice times are usually one right after the other, I usually end up going right from class to one practice, and then on to the next after the first practice is over,” Peck wrote in an email response to questions posed to him.

“Fortunately, both my football coach (Dan Musielewicz) and track coach work together with me to coordinate on practice arrangements if I will be late due to the other sport.

“They have been very supportive in transitioning each semester with workouts and class, as well as training loads so my legs aren’t completely exhausted each day during practice.”

Last year, Peck (who is majoring in insurance and risk management) strained multiple muscles in his back after the first indoor meet of the season. He says it is a re-occurring injury from high school basketball, but did not require surgery.

But, it did sideline him for the remainder of the indoor season and until the first meet of the outdoor season.

“Rehab was a long and frustrating process that lasted about seven weeks of good and bad days that would keep off of training for the outdoor season,” Peck said.

Peck had to miss most of spring football workouts, keeping him from the teams’ strength and conditioning.

Being away from both sports, and his teammates, was hard on Peck.

“I love both sports equally, and don’t favor one over the other,” he says. “Both football and track challenge me in different ways that only they can do through the coaching staff and athletes next to me. My intentions coming to Olivet were to compete in both track and football.

“I was recruited for football, but knew that I could assist the track team wherever I would fit in and was needed. Fortunately, I worked hard enough to land where I am currently in the 400 and 800 (meters). I really enjoy competing in races, and having my teammates push me to become better every day.”

He had an outstanding sophomore year, finishing second in the MIAA championships and the Comets’ 1,600-meter team of which Peck is a member captured both the indoor and outdoor league titles this year, and surpassed a long-standing school record.

That’s not all.

Peck has also set two new school records, one with the 3,200-meter relay team (8:35.62) last year and the other in the indoor mark in the 1,600-meter relay of 3:26 set this past spring.

“I love everything about the sport (of track),” Peck said. “The atmosphere, intensity, athletes, coaches and the overall outcome it also has on life.”

His fastest open 400 time is 50.14 seconds and he’s run a 1:59.45 time in the 800, while his fastest split for the 1,600 relay is 48.2 seconds. This year he was named to the U.S. Track and Field/Cross Country Coaches Association All-Great Lakes Region teams.

Lutzke credits a year of maturity for Peck’s success on the track.

“He knew what he could do, and what he couldn’t do,” she said. “He still had his running legs, I guess is the way to put it. Some of the things for football are a little bit different than track.

“This year was a lot better balance as far as his being able to get the track work in. He was healthy, which made a big difference. You could see the progression through the indoor season.”

Lutzke went on to say that Peck kept improving each and every meet during the outdoor season, and really shined in the last month of the campaign.

He even ran in the 400-meter relay.

“We weren’t planning on him running the 400-meter relay at the beginning of the year, but we needed him to and he did a great job in that relay for us,” Lutzke said.

“He really, really ran a strong leg in the 1,600 relay as well as the open 400. I’d say that now that he knows what it takes, and has the experience and the confidence, next year we’re looking for even more out of him.”

Peck says his main focus in training for track is to push himself to go as fast as he can each day, while also pushing his teammates to become better.

Running form and timed pace during specific workouts are major factors as well.

“For football, my main focus when training is to perfect my kicking form for both kickoffs and field goals, and to stay consistent,” he added. “Footwork drills are incorporated into practice each day to help improve my form.”

The records aren’t that important to him, Peck says.

“Not really,” he said. “They are just numbers on a board to me. Records will come and go over time, as athletes become faster and stronger every year. Heading into next season, my main goal is to qualify for the Division III Nationals meet.

“The 400 relay team I was a part of missed nationals this year by one spot (.5 seconds). In a short race, half of a second is a lot. So this is not only going to motivate me, but my teammates to train harder than we all have before in order to make it to nationals and compete for a national championship.”

It would be the ultimate record for Peck.

Greg Gielczyk is an award-winning sports columnist and sportwriter who worked a total 36 years — interrupted for an 18-month period from 1997-99 — at the Manistee News Advocate as sports editor until 2006 and is now retired. He currently is a freelance sportswriter for the Ludington Daily News. Gielczyk can be reached at ggielczyk@jackpine.net for story ideas. 

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