Baltimore, Md.—UMBC track and field senior Vincent Rentzsch (Oranienburg, Germany/Elite Sportschule Potsdam) will be heading to his third NCAA Championship appearance, the most by any Retriever competitor, on Wednesday, June 8 in Eugene, Ore. Rentzsch qualified for the championships after taking sixth in the javelin at the NCAA East Preliminaries in Jacksonville, Fla. a couple weeks ago. However, the feat has come after facing some challenges he expected and perhaps some he did not.
Rentzsch notes that the transition from Germany to the United States was a difficult one at first. Language barriers and culture differences made his first semester in Baltimore a tough one.
"For me the biggest transition was the language," said one of UMBC's 2015-16 co-Outstanding Senior Athletes. "During my first year here, I could hardly talk to my coaches or understand the material in my classes, but I caught up from then to now."
Not only has Rentzsch dealt with language barriers and transitioning to the college level, he also has to practice without a javelin runway on UMBC's campus. This is something he had to learn to work around, having come from a prestigious sports school back in his hometown of Oranienburg, just outside of Berlin.
"I came here having had two outdoor facilities just for track and field. Here, the coaches treat us like human beings, and for me, it is important to receive support to help you feel comfortable and when you feel comfortable, confidence and greater things can occur," said Retnzsch on having to adapt with no runway.
Vincent's throws coach, Peter Koumlelis, knows the difficulty of having to adapt without a throwing lane, but says that Vincent works just as hard, and out-throws competitors who do have one.
"Having him come here from a prestigious school focusing on sports in Germany, I was hopeful that he would buy into my philosophy of training, and fortunately everything worked out," Koumlelis stated.
This toil has not slowed Rentzsch down, as he broke the school record in the javelin in his first collegiate outdoor meet as a freshman. Earlier this season, The information systems major re-broke the record at the Raleigh Relays with a toss of 74.28m (243'8").
Former teammate Yao Adantor saw just how hard Rentzsch has worked during their time together, and states that everything he has accomplished is due to his strong work ethic. "He has this undeniable force to keep going. He sees everything as possible," the current volunteer assistant coach stated about Rentzsch. "From the classroom to the field, he feels that he can do anything he sets his mind to."
The UMBC track and field program has had success in the NCAA Championships, with Head Coach David Bobb having participated in the event, back before there was even a track facility on campus. Shot-putter Cleopatra Borel not only went to the championships (she won gold in the 2002 indoor championships in Fayetteville, Ark.), she has also made her way to three Olympic Games. However, Rentzsch stands alone as the only Retriever to make the championships three times during his career including two straight years.
This year, both athlete and coach (Koumlelis) feel that the German native will have his best year at the meet. Rentzsch feels more comfortable and knows what to expect in Tracktown.
"This is such a professional meet with the best talent in all of America. Preparing and being mentally ready are key, but don't think too much, just go for it and believe," Rentzsch said about the meet.
"We have made some adjustments, and he is as ready as he ever has been in his third time going up there," Koumlelis said.
"People say that is the hardest place to compete ever, period. This being his third time, he knows when to step on the gas and I expect him put to place as high as a UMBC male has ever placed," Adantor said of his friend and former teammate.
Rentzsch will go down as one of the best Retrievers to grace the track, but says that the program was always strong, years before he came to Baltimore. However he feels that the recent success of the program has helped the coaches recruit faster runners and stronger throwers. Even coach Bobb knows how big of an impact Vincent has had on the program.
"It is very impressive to see what he has done. I went through a similar thing, where as we did not have a track when I got here in the early 90s. So to see him progress over his four years here is a big accomplishment."
The championships in Eugene mark the end of a storied career for Rentzsch, but thanks to the ground work that he and his fellow seniors have done, the UMBC track and field program will continue to strive and will continue their push for their first America East Championship.
"I am honored and grateful to represent the university at the championships. It's not just my accomplishment, but it comes from the greater good of the program,"