Michael Davis and Tarelle Irwin both came to Youngstown State University in 2010 to run indoor and outdoor track and field.
Four years later, the two seniors are more than just runners and teammates, but friends who have certainly left their mark on the Penguins track program.
Irwin recalled first arriving at YSU, saying he was shocked at the big school setting and a bit timid.
“Coming into a [Division] I track program, you’re focused on setting goals and accomplishing them,” he said.
As time progressed, head coach Brian Gorby noticed that Irwin and Davis were within 1,000th of a second close to each other in their practice times.
“Coach put us together, and we were running one-two in most everything we entered,” Irwin said.
Davis said that the transition from his small, country town of Vienna to a big city college was different, but he quickly adjusted to it.
“The guys on the team were all nice, so it was pretty easy,” he said.
Davis said that track has been a good experience and has helped him get through school. He is especially thankful for his friendship with Irwin.
“He’s a good guy, and I’m really glad he’s on the team,” he said.
“We’ve become such great friends,” Irwin said. “We don’t care which one of us wins, as long as it’s one of us.”
Irwin said the two are constantly pushing each other in practices and workouts.
“It’s funny; it’s really more instinctive than it is verbal,” he said. “If one of us speeds up in practice, then the other one does too.”
Although they now take a more laid back approach in practices trying to stay healthy for meets, Davis said the competition between the two in practice was tremendously high in their freshmen, sophomore and junior years.
That competitive instinct rolls right over into meets as well. Irwin recalled a recent meet where Davis came up to him before the race and said: “I’m coming to win, but if I lose you better be the only one in front of me.”
Both Irwin and Davis have goals that they want to accomplish before their times as Penguin runners are over.
Along with winning the conference in their individual events, Irwin hopes to at least make regionals in the 200-meter dash.
“We want to go out with a one-two punch and end up the second and third fastest runners to ever come out of YSU,” he said.
Davis has very similar goals to his teammate, hoping to sweep all of the Horizon League events the he participates in. His ultimate goal is to win an event at regionals.
As their time as YSU athletes winds down, both Davis and Irwin said it seems like yesterday that their track careers at the collegiate level were just beginning.
“It’s definitely weird,” Davis said. “Four years ago I couldn’t believe that I had four years of track left, and now we only have a few meets remaining.”
“It seems like a split second passed, and now we’re seniors,” he said. “Younger runners look up to us like we used to look up to other runners. So, we try to lead by example and let them know that one day this will be their team.”
Still, Davis and Irwin said they don’t expect their friendship to end after they graduate.
“I always see myself keeping in touch with ‘Big Mike,’” Irwin said. “He’s a funny guy and a good friend.”