Andrew Englert doesn’t listen to music as he runs on the cross country team.
The freshman actuarial science major from New Lenox, Illinois, said he simply warms up for the races with his teammates and a drill.
Perhaps it was his years of soccer that got him accustomed to the sound of his own panting. He’s played since he started his athletic career as a soccer player and later used it to condition for his long-distance runs.
Englert is used to placing at meets from his high school career but found the jump to college athletics to be a little more difficult than he expected.
“It’s a lot bigger of competition than high school state track meets,” he said. “There’s a little bit of pressure to get used to.”
The first season was not up to par with Englert’s expectations.
“The season didn’t go quite the way I wanted to,” he said. “But the team is looking really good.”
Englert ran a 27:29 8k this past season, which he would like to improve.
His hometown friend Zak Hutchinson said he is still proud to see his buddy competing at a big school and loves to cheer him on.
“I’m a hype man for him,” Hutchinson said. “During track season, I’ll be his man.”
While Englert wasn’t impressed with his times, Hutchinson said they are what he expected from someone still getting used to the collegiate and Division One level.
“I think he’s done really well,” Hutchinson said. “His times are what I expected.”
The friends ran together but Hutchinson gave up athletics to pursue a mechanical engineering major at UNL. He said he isn’t entirely sure how student-athletes like Englert balance everything.
“I think it’s incredible,” Hutchinson said. “Seeing him progress over the years and constantly get better… seeing him put the hard work in and seeing where he’s at now is just incredible.”
Rittenbacher said Englert knows he has work to do to feel he has done as well as his friends think but he is ready to push himself.
“I think it’s a difference in training,” Rittenbacher said. “It shocks the system.”
Englert said he also needs to adjust to being the youngest on the track again.
“I’m still figuring things out,” he said. “What I need to do and what my role is.”
Englert was a leader of his high school team and is ready to balance between the follower and leadership positions as a Husker.
“If I had one word to describe (Englert), it would be leader,” hometown friend and high school teammate Nate Rittenbacher said. “He’s my best friend and he’s a leader.”
His Husker teammate and roommate Brian Beach said the two are both still learning the ropes and getting a handle on things together.
“Both of us did not do well,” Beach said. “It’s kind of nice to joke about the misery together.”
The two men said they know there is no use in fretting over the past and are looking forward to the future seasons.
To Rittenbacher, these jokes make sense.
“Andrew is super funny, but he’s really quiet around new people,” Rittenbacher said. “When I hang out with him at home he’s talking all the time.”
Rittenbacher runs track now at the University of Central Missouri and ran with Englert in high school. The two have a tradition with their high school friends to run the “Milk Mile” each Thanksgiving Break.
This race consists of each person chugging chocolate milk after each lap of a mile run.
He said he was excited to see his friends and catch up soon. But as for that milk race, Englert won this time with Hutchinson out because he had to work and Rittenbacher out sick.
But there is always next year.