Seawolves' Sramek Making Most Of Extended Alaska Stay
David Sramek placed second in the 2020 GNAC Indoor Championships heptathlon and is the UAA record holder in the pole vault both indoors and outdoors. Photo by Jacob Thompson.
David Sramek placed second in the 2020 GNAC Indoor Championships heptathlon and is the UAA record holder in the pole vault both indoors and outdoors. Photo by Jacob Thompson.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

ANCHORAGE, Alaska – Coming out of high school in the Czech Republic, David Sramek had a choice.

He could head to the deserts of Arizona and compete in track and field at the Division I level or head to the mountains of Alaska and compete at the Division II level.

While he admits that he nearly headed south, Sramek always had his sights set on the north.

“I enjoy nature and the countless things that you can do here,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is summer or winter. There’s always something to do and I am a pretty outdoorsy person. I really appreciate that.”

The chance was just what Sramek wanted after a lifetime of living in the Czech Republic’s capital of Prague, a major European city of 1.5 million people.

“Coming from a big city where everything is hours away, it’s a nice change,” Sramek said. “Anchorage is a relatively small town but it doesn’t feel like it. Everything you need is pretty close. Plus you can drive 20 minutes away and you’re in the middle of nowhere.”

The change of scenery has helped Sramek thrive in a track and field career that has seen its fill of adversity. After a broken wrist wiped out much of his 2018 season, Sramek is now navigating the trials of the COVID-19 pandemic that left him without a 2020 outdoor season or a 2021 indoor season.

As he has navigated those trials over the last three years, Sramek is often reminded of some words of wisdom from his former head coach, Michael Friess.

“You just have the stay focused and prioritize what’s important,” Sramek said. “You can only control what you can control, so focus on that.”

When he has been out on the track, Sramek has been an impactful member of the Alaska Anchorage program in a number of events.

As a freshman, Sramek placed third in the heptathlon at the 2017 GNAC Indoor Championships and seventh in the decathlon at the GNAC Outdoor Championships. He bettered both school records in the pole vault, going 14 feet, 10 inches indoors and 14 feet, 9 inches outdoors.

Sramek was three meets into the 2018 indoor season when a broken wrist snapped what could have been a breakout season. That indoor season, Alaska Anchorage lost the men’s indoor title by six points; points that Sramek knows were his to contribute.

“With the marks I had that season, we win that meet,” he said. “That was really frustrating.”

Rather than get down and out, Sramek got right to work healing. Alaska Anchorage’s trainers and strength and conditioning coach designed workouts that allowed Sramek to continue conditioning without using his arm or wrist.

Perseverance led to a pair of solid 2019 seasons. In his junior indoor campaign, Sramek placed in the GNAC Championships in three events, led by a fourth-place finish in the heptathlon, and broke his own school record by going 15 feet, 3 inches in the pole vault. Outdoors, Sramek placed second in the pole vault at the GNAC Championships with a school-record 15 feet, 3 inches, and placed fifth in the decathlon.

The 2020 season promised to be even better. Sramek placed second in the heptathlon at the GNAC Indoor Championships and had earned a trip to the NCAA Championships as part of the Seawolves’ distance medley relay when the COVID-19 pandemic put the season on indefinite hold.

“Everything shut down. School went online. No training,” Sramek said. “Our training facility was closed so we were kind of stuck. It was March so it was still pretty cold outside. We just did our home workouts, tried to go on hikes and tried to stay active a little bit.”

Once again, Sramek dealt with a season of competition disappearing. This time, however, it was up to him to make the most of it. Thankfully, Alaska provides plenty of opportunities for outdoor recreation. The mountains were calling and Sramek went. Camping, hiking and skiing kept him active.

“If you want to get out in the afternoon after class, you drive 20 minutes and you’re in the mountains,” Sramek said. “I don’t think you get that anywhere else. In the winter, I love skiing so we do a lot of cross-country skiing. I have trails just two minutes from my house.”

When it came time to start fall practice, options were limited. Access to UAA’s training facilities was closed and access to the coaching staff was limited.

“We started the semester on our own,” Sramek said. “We weren’t allowed to practice in groups. We were not able to practice with coaches for the first two months. So it was just us. We as seniors had to step up and come up with workouts for the team and try to keep the team together.”

Thanks to the work of the seniors and a lot of creativity, Sramek believes that Alaska Anchorage will be ready to compete when the outdoor season starts in the spring.

“We worked with all that we had available and I think we did a pretty good job working with what we had,” he said. “I think we are all ready to compete because it has been a while.”

That experience building workouts and motivating his teammates provided some key training for what Sramek hopes will be his next phase. While he has two years of outdoor track and field eligibility left, Sramek believes that the 2021 season will be his last as a collegiate competitor.

“Honestly, I will probably just use one season. We will see how it goes,” Sramek said. “I am trying to be a graduate assistant next year. I didn’t get to compete a lot over the last three years. Staying motivated to compete in just a couple of meets outdoors, I think I could be more valuable as a graduate assistant than keeping a spot on the team.”

Whether competing or coaching, the extra time will give Sramek an opportunity to evaluate his career possibilities.

A journalism and public communications major that graduated in May, Sramek spent two years working in the Alaska Anchorage athletic communications office where he produced videos for the department and helped update social media during home games. He also volunteered for experience, producing videos for an Anchorage climate lobby.

“I have always liked taking pictures and taking videos of stuff,” Sramek said. “When I found out that I could do video journalism here, that always seemed like a dream job that I could do. There’s a bunch of things that I could do with it that I enjoy, so we will see where it takes me.”

While he finishes his UAA eligibility, Sramek is registered in Alaska Anchorage’s Master of Business Administration program. So while he figures out the next phase of his life, Sramek is focused on making the most of the track season. But the focus will not necessarily be on setting records.

“I just want to have fun, enjoy the last season,” he said.