Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Established 1874.

The Oberlin Review

Meet the Record-Breaking Men’s 4×4 Team


On Feb. 2, the Oberlin track and field team hosted several other colleges in their first home meet of the season. The athletes performed well across the board, but only the men’s 4×4 relay team broke a school record… again.

The team is made up of first-year Armand Andry and third-years Sam Fechner, Cole Fuller, and Kambi Obioha. Although one of Oberlin’s men’s 4×4 teams broke the 15-year-old record a few weeks before with a time of 3:21.00, Fuller was unable to compete in that meet and was not part of the team. With Fuller as the fourth runner of the Feb. 2 group, the team ran in 3:20.35. 

A week after that meet on Feb. 9, the team has broken the record once again, besting their previous record by over a whopping five seconds with a time of 3:15.16.

Each team member began their running careers at different times in their lives. Andry started running in middle school and became a serious runner in the lead-up to high school.

When he attended Lincoln Park High School in Chicago, he wanted to join the track team in his first year. However, he was playing on the basketball team at the same time as the indoor track season, and, unfortunately, COVID hit at the beginning of the outdoor season, so Andry couldn’t run competitively for his first two years of high school. Although he was disadvantaged in the college recruiting process without times from those two years, he kept training and improving his times.  

Andry blossomed in his senior year of high school, running quickly enough to go to indoor and outdoor state. Even with an injury, Andry ran a personal record and went to USA Track & Field nationals. Going into his first year of college, he was still injured but kept pushing hard to be ready for the first meet of the year.

During his second meet, he broke the 4×4 school record. He then broke the 4×2 record a week later and ran a 200-meter PR.

“And so that by that time, I know, because my first race, I tripped in the 60s,” Andry explained. “It was a rocky start to my first race of my college career. But then [in] my second race, I ended up at the same meet, ended up breaking the 4×4 record. So it’s a blessing to be around such a great team.”

Cole Fuller is a dual-sport athlete at Oberlin, playing soccer and indoor and outdoor track. He has run track since high school with a focus on the 4×4 and hurdles. In high school, Fuller went to States twice — once in his first year for the 4×4 and once in his fourth year for both 110-meter and 300-meter hurdles. 

In Fuller’s first year at Oberlin, he got on the podium for the indoor 400-meter hurdles, and then won the indoor 400 hurdles in his second year. He was also part of a 4×4 group that almost made it to outdoor nationals in his second year. 

Sam Fechner’s running career started at Oberlin. He was mainly a basketball player while in high school in Germany, where he grew up, although he had been recruited by some track teams.

“It’s hard to do multiple sports in Germany where you don’t have the three seasons,” Fechner said. “It’s kind of an all-year-round thing.”

While Fechner mainly played basketball, he also ran track briefly in the spring of his third year in high school when he moved to the U.S. He was recruited to play basketball at Oberlin but realized in his first year that basketball wasn’t what he wanted to do as his college sport.

Fechner took initiative and emailed Coach Ben Wach to join the team as a short distance runner. He got into it quickly and improved drastically. 

“I was kind of expecting to just be on the team and be practicing,” Fechner said. “Then we actually got the 4×200 record my first year with Cole and [third-year] Reese [Hyatt] on the team. So with the three freshmen on there, we knew that we already had a group. Then for the 4×4 outdoors, my first year we had Cole, Kambi, and I already on it, and we had another first year. So we had [an] all first-year 4×4 and I think we got fourth or fifth … but it was clear that we had a good group in that year.”

Wach transitioned Fechner from being a sprinter to longer distances. Due to his long strides, the 400 seemed to be the ideal event for him. Since the switch, Fechner has blossomed as a runner.

Since the start of his running career in sixth grade, Obioha has always loved running the 4×4. He ran up until his first year of high school when he decided to take a break to focus on academics. He quickly realized that he didn’t feel like himself without track and rejoined the team his second year. However, his team wasn’t focused on the events that Obioha ran the best.

“I told my coach that I was a 400-meter runner and the school was a little bit different in terms of its program,” Obioha said. “We were more distance-oriented: we would win regionals every single time in cross country. So all of my practices were pretty much distance-oriented. We didn’t do that much lifting. We had a strong mid-distance group. Our sprints, however, [weren’t] that strong. But I ended up continuing doing the 4×4 and the 400. I even added the 4×8 and the 800 while there.”

Obioha didn’t run his third year because of COVID, but he continued running the same events in his senior year, sometimes competing against Fuller’s high school. Coming into Oberlin, Obioha walked onto the team but had not lifted weights on his high school team. It took him a little time to adjust, but he has flourished as a part of this team.

Even though the team has found so much success this year, breaking the record at home was one of the most euphoric moments. Fuller was running the race with a chip on his shoulder after not being a part of the first record-breaking group.

“The first time they broke the school record without me, they basically photoshopped [the other runner’s] head on top of mine, because we all took a media day photo together,” Fuller said. “I was really pumped to get back on this team and try and break it again to prove that I can be on this team. … So, that’s what I was thinking the whole time I was running it. And it’s nice to know that my actual face is on there for the 4×4 school record.”

Andry expressed his gratitude for joining a team full of fast runners, great teammates, and great people.

“I’m just really grateful to come into a team that was pretty perfect for me,” Andry said. “I’m a little behind Kam and Sam, and I’m right there with Cole. So I have a perfect training partner in Cole, and then perfect role models to look up to and something to chase. And then just coming in at the [Division III] level, I think the competition that we’re going up against is really perfect for me. It’s perfect for us as well. … I already feel at home here.”

Obioha agreed with Andry’s sentiment. 

“I’m really grateful that we have a deep floor squad,” Obioha said. “We just have guys that are committed to do their very best. We have Armand neck-and-neck with Cole, and I’m glad to have Sam neck-and-neck with me. A bunch of competition to be pushing all of us to do well, and I think that’s what makes us great and different from other schools.”

Fuller added how important it is that the entire squad keeps up with their training and improving year-round. 

“I also think all of us, especially them three, training year-round really helps,” Fuller said. “When I got my concussion during the end of the soccer season, I was actually able to start training for track earlier. Usually I would take two weeks off of soccer, but because my concussion ran through the end of the season, that was technically my break. So I was able to get basically a month’s extra worth of training, and I’m faster than I’ve ever been at this point in my college career. So I can’t wait to see not only where I go, but where all of us go, and I think training plays a big part in that.”

The group’s goal is to go to nationals for the 4×4. Following their meet last weekend, they are the sixth-fastest DIII team in the nation. 

Three out of four of the runners have earned NCAC Athlete of the Week Honors, a sign of the determination the squad has to get to nationals. They don’t see honors as just an individual prize, but something they can celebrate as a team with their coaches and teammates. 

“We have a good coach that leads us in the right direction, and we’re pretty like-minded when it comes to our execution [of] the 4×4,” Obioha said. “I feel like our mental drive and game plan is what is making us focused and determined in getting these honors. … Something we can all celebrate for each leg of the 4×4, putting something in to make our time better and potentially go to nationals. So I feel like that’s what brings us closer together and what makes these kinds of things on the track happen.”

Fechner discussed how important their coach is to their success and how important each of their individual journeys has been in getting to this point in their track careers. 

“Each of us knew coming into the season that we were capable of doing this, and the way that Coach Wach has planned out the entire season has just worked out pretty much perfectly,” Fechner said. “At the end of the day, now that the season is getting to where it matters, we’ve all had our own path and we’ve all reached that level, which is pretty cool.”

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