Parma Grad Mike Kowal Making an Impact at BW on Football Field and Finnie Stadium Track
“I have always been a pretty fast athlete in terms of running speed,” said Kowal, business administration major who already has earned two varsity letters in football as a wide receiver and kick return specialist and one letter in track as a sprinter and member of the sprint relay teams. “I wanted to see where I stand compared to everyone else at BW and in the Ohio Athletic Conference. I also think I can help the track team too.
“Participating in track has a lot of benefits in terms of building strength and dedication and commitment,” continued Kowal. “It [running track] also obviously helps me improve myself for football next fall.”
Although Kowal was a two-sport stadout at Parma in football and basketball, he never ran track. When asked why he decided to run track, Kowal said “I knew it would benefit me for football. I like the sprint races, so it seemed like a natural thing to do.
I also loved basketball when I was in high school,” said Kowal, who earned four letters on the court at Parma. “ I knew I couldn’t play it at BW because it is too close to football and the seasons also have the ability to overlap. So, to stay active and enhance my chances in football, I decided to give track a shot.”
Two people who are definitely pleased by his decision are veteran track coach Dr. Bill Taraschke and football coach John Snell.
“Mike is a strong all-around athlete,” said Taraschke, who led the women’s cross country team to an OAC title this fall and the indoor track team to a title this winter and now has led 46 BW teams to conference titles. “He is a natural sprinter who is still learning a great deal about technique and how to maximixe his natural and athletic abilities. We are pleased to have him on the team.”
“Mike is one of our best wide receivers and kick return specialists,” said Snell, who has led BW to a 41-21 record in six seasons in Berea, including a spot in the 2003 NCAA Division III National Playoffs. “He has good speed, and for him to take the time to develop it and become better is a positive move.”
In his first year at BW, Kowal saw most of his action on the junior varsity football team aand did not run track. It was as a sophomore that he blossomed on the football field. That season, he caught 14 passes for 127 yards. Then last fall, Kowal saw the first of his track work benefit him on the gridiron as he caught 10 passes for 155 yards.
“Mike improved markedly from his sophomore to junior seasons in terms of speed and stretching the defense,” said Snell. “He has always been a very good receiver in terms of having sure hands and running disciplined pass routes. The speed just enhances his ability on both short and long routes. It gives the defensive back or linebacker much more to consider when trying to cover Mike.”
In his first season on The Harrison Dillard Track indoors, Kowal competed inthe 55 and 300-meter dashes, and in the 200 and 400-meter dasges outdoors on The George Finnie Stadium track. Indoors, he recorded bests of 6.92 seconds in the 55 and 36.80 in the 300, and outdoors his bests were 22.84 in the 200 and 52.27 in the 400. This winter, Kowal lowered his 55 dash time to a career-best 6.64 seconds.
Mike is excited about the outdoor season. The season began last weekend at the Coastal Carolina Invitational Meet in Conway, South Carolina while BW was on its annual spring break trip.
“This year, we have a way more talented team and in the short sprint races should greatly improve from where we left off last year,” said Kowal. There is a great attitude on this team. It is an attitude of hard work and improvement every day. It is a great atmosphere and its alot of fun too.”
Kowal and the Yellow Jacket track teams are back in action this Saturday, March 22 when they travel to New Concord, Ohio to run at the annual Muskingum College Invitational Meet on the Johnson Family Track at 11:00 a.m. Highlighting the spring season for Kowal and BW is when it hosts the annual Paul “Sparky” Adams Invitational Meet at the Finnie Stadium on April 19.