For Memphis distance runners, this is just the beginning
March 28, 2003
By Ryan Rogers Memphis Media Relations
This year the Memphis Men's Track team has had a resurgence once again becoming one of the top teams in C-USA. The Tigers finished third at C-USA Indoor Championships largely due to its distance runners that dominated the meet.
Newcomers Mate Nemeth and Adam Didyk trounced the field in Houston on way to finishing first and second respectively in the 5000m and second and third in the 3000m run. Their combined 32 points went a long way to pushing Memphis to a third place team finish.
For Nemeth, his journey to the top of C-USA was a welcomed treat for Coach Hays and his staff. Nemeth transferred to Memphis this year after running at the University of Northern Iowa in 2001 and 2002. A native of Szekszard, Hungary, Nemeth has been running almost his entire life.
"My father was a track coach," said Nemeth. "Running has always been a part of my life. Ever since I was very young I always followed my Dad around to track meets and when I was 13 years old, I started running competitively in Hungary."
With the track environment provided by his family and country. Following a dream to run track competitively was an obvious choice for Nemeth.
"My home town of Szekszard has about 40,000 people," said Nemeth. Not small, but not big either, but it's known for producing some of Hungary's top distance runners. A lot of Olympians and national champions have come from Szekszard. The running there is very respected."
Teammate Adam Didyk, a native of Adelide, Australia, also had a dream of running track in America.
"I wanted to run track collegiately in America," said Didyk. "I was doing well at the University of South Australia, but college athletics there are not set up like they are here. You have much more opportunity here, and there is much better competition."
Unlike Nemeth, Didyk's interest in running began much later.
"I started running track at St. Marcus College (equivalent to American High School). I really liked it and it didn't take me long to realize that it was something I could be good at. I went to South Australia to compete and then I sent off letters to many American colleges where I wanted to run track. Memphis seemed like a good fit because I knew a lot of other top distance runners were headed that way."
Perhaps more than any other sport, having talented teammates to train with is a necessity in track. Like Didyk, Nemeth was lured to Memphis by the promise of a group of top-distance runners to train with. Balazs Laszlo, already a member of the Tiger track team, is also a native of Hungary and also a top distance runner for Memphis. He played a role in Nemeth's decision to come to Memphis and Didyk's decision to join the group.
"I've known Mate (Nemeth) for ten years, said Laszlo. "He made his decision on his own, but I was able to paint the picture for him and he realized how good we could be if he came here. I knew it was going to get better. It already has gotten better."
When you add Tiger distance runners Ferenc Bekesi, Ryan Smith, Jeff Doudrick, Hugh Ferry and freshmen twins Irman Mahmood and Reham Mahmood who will compete in cross-country, and Memphis has a plethora of distance runners who can benefit from training together.
"That's the key to have a good track or cross-country team," said Nemeth. "You need to have several teammates to push you in training. The better runners they are, the more they will push you. The more we can push each other. We have a lot of good runners here now. And we will only get better and better."
The Tiger distance runners are not only concerned with what happens now, but the future as well.
"This spring, a couple of us have a goal to qualify for NCAA Outdoor Championships, said Didyk. "Next fall we want to qualify for cross-country nationals as a team. With all this depth, it's something we not only can do, but we should do."
"This is just the beginning," Didyk says. "We want to build up Memphis's reputation as a great track school for distance runners to go to. Hopefully the foundation we lay down now, will bring better an better runners here in the future."