TO THE OUTSIDER, it seemed awfully sudden. One minute, Bryce Hoppel holds the American Indoor Record for the 1000, and the next, it’s someone named Shane Streich who flew under the general radar until that moment in the American Track League’s season-opening Louisville stop.
Who is this man who ran 2:16.16 to shave 0.11 from Hoppel’s ’21 standard? Fair question.
However, it must be noted that Streich (“strike”) doesn’t share the notion that he’s an unknown who came out of nowhere. Rather, the 25-year-old Minnesota native can point to building a solid set of credentials in his ramp-up to the record.
Last year, after finishing 6th in the NCAA 800 at 1:46.70, he missed making the OT final by a few 10ths, being the fastest non-qualifier in the semis at 1:46.92. Then, three days later at a small meet in Vida, Oregon, he assuaged his disappointment with a PR 1:45.85.
Now the adidas/Atlanta TC star is hoping to make a run at a World Champs qualifying spot.
It all started with a promising prep career at Waseca High, where Streich hit bests of 1:49.73 and 4:14.94+ and found some nice recruiting interest (Stanford, Wisconsin, etc.) but didn’t get a nibble from other top programs (Washington, Georgetown, Michigan).
“It kind of fueled the fire,” he says. He headed 70-plus miles north and stayed in-state at Minnesota. “I had confidence in my potential down the road,” he says. “Through the years, it’s battling those lows and just keeping my head on straight and keeping my eyes on the prize.”
As a Gopher, he earned All-Big 10 honors in the 800, 1500 and mile and notched bests of 1:48.83 and 3:42.81. He admits he wanted more. “I always wanted to try to run at the professional level. Even in high school that was definitely a goal of mine.
“There were points where I just felt pretty burned out and even thought about just hanging up the spikes and moving on. But at the end of the day, I still had that goal in the back of my mind and kept pushing towards it.”
He was set to run the DMR at that NCAA-Indoor-that-wasn’t, the ’20 edition where athletes working out on the Albuquerque track got the news that the next day’s meet wouldn’t be happening after all. With graduation in the offing, and his eligibility apparently wiped out by C19, he says he “considered going to the next level and at least trying to join a team… This was really frustrating and hard because I didn’t get to end my college career on my own terms.”
Then he got word that the NCAA had granted everyone an extra year of eligibility, and he signed on to do his sixth year at Tennessee’s Lipscomb U. “It was a matter of, ‘Do I want to try and run? Join a pro team and try to start working through the professional ranks?’ I mean, 3:42 and 1:48 are nothing that’s really super impressive in terms of moving to the pro level.
“Did I want to go that route or did I want to go back to school and take more classes? I made that decision to go back to school.”
The move to Lipscomb and Bisons coach Nick Polk revitalized Streich’s career: “I knew the potential that I had and the capabilities that I had, it was just finding the right culture and the right training that fit me perfectly.
“And sometimes it also just takes a change of pace. Being at Minnesota for 5 years, I kind of got stuck in a rut and it was hard to get out of. The change of pace helped. I had such a successful season at Lipscomb, being able to be there for a year and have my career completely flipped on its head because of the amount of success I had.”
Not only did Streich go undefeated in the 800 until the NCAA final last year, he also improved his 1500 to 3:41.26 and dipped under 4:00 in the mile with his 3:58.03 in July.
Finally, it seemed time to go pro. “I knew I had the potential. My parents and friends knew it. Coach Polk and my teammates knew it. Finishing 6th at the NCAAs opened a lot of doors and I’m thankful for that.”
At the end of August, he moved to Georgia to work with Atlanta TC coaches Amy (a 10K Olympian in ’08) and Andrew Begley. He also jumped into the club’s organization, working 10–12 hours per week as a data coordinator for the finance department.
“They try to get us involved with the organization to figure out the ins and outs and help set us up for life after the sport.” Not that Streich is going to be hard-pressed for credentials on the job market. He has a degree in Actuarial Science, a grad certificate in Quantitative Finance, and last year picked up an MBA. “Finance guy, math guy, numbers guy — I like to wear a few hats.”
Training with the Begleys helped produce the confidence Streich needed to chase the AR. “I was actually pretty confident. In the week prior, I had run 1:46.07. Two weeks before, I ran 3:57.98. I knew I had the strength and the speed capabilities too. It sometimes takes everything to line up perfectly. I obviously needed things to pan out in the race.
“It definitely helped having Erik Sowinski out there pacing. I couldn’t have done it without him. He just clicks off whatever you need for as long as he can.
“I was right where I wanted to be at 800. It’s nice to have a little bit of change in your pocket, a little bit of a buffer. Once I got to that point, it was just finding a way to close and not give up any tenths or hundredths of a second.”
What’s in the future for the new American Record holder? “800s are my primary focus right now. We’ll see how my body handles training over the next few years. Maybe 2–3 years down the road I’ll be focusing more on the 1500.
“Outdoors this year, the most basic goal is to stay healthy and keep consistently training. The focus is to try to put myself in position to make the World outdoors.”
But the angle of this record coming from out of the blue? “It might be surprising in the moment,” he says, “but it’s a culmination of work and persistence through the years.”