Former Saline track star Steven Bastien is excelling at the next level. Bastien is the University of Michigan’s first ever athlete to be All-American in both the heptathlon and decathlon. This weekend, Bastien is one of eight Wolverines battling for NCAA titles and All-America honors at Hayward Field in Eugene, Ore.
Bastien had a storied career at Saline High School. He holds the school record for long jump and until this year held the record for pole vaulting, before it was broken by Saline junior Eric Harris and senior Kyle Nouhan. He was named Mr. Track and Field as a senior in 2012.
Bastien started at Samford University in Alabama, where he competed for the track team for two season before transferring to U of M.
“I transferred to Michigan and my first year I came fifth in the Big Ten in the heptathlon and I redshirted for outdoors,” Bastien said. “Then I got first team All-American for indoors, last year I won the heptathlon, was second in the decathlon and then was first team in both indoors and outdoors.”
That is just the start of it. Bastien has a long list of accomplishments.
Bastien said part of the reason he decided to transfer to U of M was his high school friend and teammate, Garrick Roemer, was recruiting him.
“Garrick was on the team and he was sort of convincing me to think about it and he kind of put the wheels into motion for that,” Bastien said.
Roemer unfortunately committed suicide in 2014.
Bastien said his list of responsibilities at Samford was becoming far too long for him to excel.
“I was having to do a little more than my body could handle,” Bastien said. “Because the conference was so small, at a conference meet I would do about 16 events.”
Bastien said coming from Saline, he was well prepared to compete on the collegiate stage.
“The amount of talent that is within Saline and the areas around it, prepared me for this level,” Bastien said. “There is good competition within the team and then the meets that we go to there are a lot of guys who are competing for state titles or to be all-state.”
Bastien said the coaching staff that surrounded him at Saline was crucial to his success.
“Having my dad growing up coaching me and helping me out in high school, that was huge,” Bastien said. “Coach (Brian) Boze and coach (Al) Leslie, the workouts they made really challenged us and laid the groundwork for being able to handle the workouts we have in college.”
“I remember getting to college and thinking some of the workouts we did in high school were harder than these,” Bastien said. “I think it is a pretty advanced program as far as high school goes and I think that is why they have a lot of success every year.”
Being a student-athlete at U of M does not come without struggles, Bastien said.
“I’d say the most difficult part is having a bunch of stuff with school all hitting the fan at once while you are trying to go to practice or meets,” Bastien said. “You have to use time management because you have to put so much time into school and into track and if you don’t plan stuff out, you can get yourself into pickles where you have to do a lot of school work all at once. The classes are really challenging and I think the hardest part is just dealing with that stress.”
Keeping a positive attitude is essential when you have the workload of a student-athlete at U of M, Bastien said.
“It can be pretty tough to motivate yourself, especially if class or practice is real early in the morning,” Bastien said. “At the same time, it is a pretty sweet opportunity and I just try to not think about it too negatively.”
Bastien said his advice to kids who want to be student-athletes at U of M would be to take school seriously right out of the gate.
“I didn’t take high school very seriously for the first three years,” Bastien said. “I think the last semester of my junior year I realized I needed to start trying. I actually wanted to go to Michigan right out of high school but I wasn’t able to get in because my GPA was too low. If you are trying to go to Michigan, you have to start taking your classes seriously right away and honestly, just doing your homework from the beginning of your freshman year. If you have a good GPA, it really opens more doors for you when you are trying to make the choice of what college to go to.”