CMU track's Stacks and Lievense: Formidable competitors, good friends
Sophomore distance runners Kyle Stacks and Ethan Lievense have been setting the bar for the Mid-American Conference.
Both Stacks and Lievense have qualified for the MAC championships in the 5000m, 3000m and mile run. These two are not only a solid athletic combination but also good friends and roommates.
"We both went to the same division in high school, and we both went to small schools," said Lievense, a graduate of Saugatuck High School. "So, starting that senior year is when we both started to get pretty decent, and, ever since then, we talked and we really started to get to know each other the summer before freshman year."
It was actually Lievense who convinced Stacks, a graduate of Concord High School, to join him at Central Michigan.
"I was trying to get Kyle to go to Central with me, because I had already pretty much committed," he said. "So, we were talking back and forth, and it just ended up that we got a room together."
Stacks and Lievense have been somewhat neck and neck in their events this season, finishing close behind each other week in and week out.
They both set personal records in the same race at the Simmons-Harvey Invitational and Indiana Relays. They also posted MAC-qualifying times in the same events at the GVSU Quad, Simmons-Harvey Invitational and Meyo Invitational.
This competition between friends is what motivates them to push one another to be two of the best in the MAC.
"This is kind of the first year it's been like that; we've always been apart," Lievense said. "Kyle's been handing it to me for a while now. So, this is the first year we've been close. I don’t think we talk about it too much; you know it's like, ‘oh how'd your race go?’ oh good, how'd yours go?’.
"I think, in the back of our minds, we both want to beat each other."
Stacks agreed that the friendly competition has resulted in a major positive for the men's track and field team.
"I'd say we are pretty competitive," Stacks said. "I think it's kind of something that the team also needs, especially when we lost Tecumseh Adams. We needed a leadership role to step in, and so that’s what we did."
As two of the more prominent members of an almost exclusively sophomore distance squad, Stacks and Lievense have had to step into a leadership role on the team.
"It's pretty exciting, especially because we’re young and we have two more years left," Stacks said. "It's exciting to see where this will take us."
With the MAC championships looming, the two athletes are feeling secure with their level of preparation this season. They are lined up to be big point scorers for CMU and are ranked in the top three in all of their events.
"I mean, compared to what a lot of guys have been running in the MAC, we've actually been kind of running faster times," Stacks said. "We know that there are a lot of competitors that can run with us, but, compared to last year especially, we’re in a better boat than we were before."
Stacks, Lievense and the rest of the men's track and field team will be in Mount Pleasant Friday for the Jack Skoog Meet.