June 2, 2006
Junior Ryan Brown has this year picked up riight where he left off in 2005, capturing a pair of All-America honors indoors and earning berths at next week's NCAA Championships in both the 800-meter run and 4x400-meter relay. The Renton native burst onto the scene in 2003, setting an indoor freshman record at 800 meters, before taking a one-year leave of absence from the sport to pursue other interests. Upon his return in 2005, Brown quickly became of the nation's top half-milers, winning the Pac-10 and NCAA West Regional titles at 800 meters before placing 10th in the event at the NCAA Championships. Brown also led UW's 4x400-meter relay squad to a school record and an NCAA Championships berth, and was a member of UW's All-America distance medley relay team indoors.
With four All-America awards already to his credit, including three on relays and one as an individual, Brown has a chance next week to become just the fifth Husky ever to earn as many as five All-America awards -- an exclusive group which includes only 10-time All-American Ja'Warren Hooker, seven-time NCAA Champion Scott Neilson, six-time All-American Rick Noji and five-time All-American Steve Anderson. GoHuskies.com correspondent Andre Bayard sat down with Brown before a workout earlier this week to discuss the junior's terrific 2006 season, and his expectations for nationals.
GoHuskies.com: Tell me about the Regional meet. How were you feeling?
Ryan Brown: "I felt pretty good. I got back into the 1:47s. It is converted for altitude, but it is solid."
GH: You mention the altitude adjustment -- did you notice the difference in altitude when you were racing?
Brown: "No, you couldn't really tell. You do not really think about it when you run. The first day was really hot, and I was out of breath, but I attribute that more to the heat than to anything else."
GH: How does it feel to have qualified for nationals for the second-straight year?
Brown: "It feels good. Last year I did not know what to expect, because it was all new. I was kind of overwhelmed by the enormity of it all, but this year I know how to mentally prepare for it."
GH: What kind of preparation will you do?
Brown: "I am going to try to not think about it too much. I do not want to psych myself out, and get too crazy over it. I am just going to think of it as another race."
GH: Have you run at any other meet that compares to the NCAA Championships?
Brown: "Indoor Nationals are kind of like it, but I only ran the relay for that. The pressure on me running as an individual is bigger. Last year, running the 800 meters by myself was crazy."
GH: How far do you think the 4x400m relay team can go?
Brown: "I think we have a good shot. We were just talking about it. We have beaten all the teams ahead of us except for LSU, who nobody is going to beat. But we have beat everybody ahead of us indoors, so if we get second, we are champions by default. And we think we have a really good shot at that."
GH: Every person on the relay has previous NCAA Championships experience, either as part of a relay or as an individual. Do you think that experience will make a difference for this team?
Brown: "Yeah, definitely. We have three guys that qualified individually for nationals this year, with Bruce [Jackson] in the 400, Shane [Charles] in the hurdles, and me in the 800m. And Jordan [Boase] has the speed in the 200 to have qualified. We have as good a team as anyone out there."
GH: How has the injury you suffered earlier this season affected your training over the course of the year?
Brown: "Well, when I got hurt, I took it a lot easier. Last year I raced every week, and it was kind of a build. This year I just started that build a little later, and I feel like I am now starting to get into shape."
GH: If you hadn't been hurt, do you think you'd be any higher in the individual rankings at 800 meters?
Brown: "Well, I am going into this meet only one ranking below where I was last year. I think if didn't get hurt I would be a little higher, but it doesn't really matter. I like to think that I still have something left in the tank, and that I have something to prove."
GH: Washington has 15 athletes going to the NCAA Championships this year. How much of an impact does it have on you as an individual to have so many teammates there with you?
Brown: "It's huge. We have a lot of people going, and pretty much everyone is in a different event. We are represented in everything -- from the sprints to the long distances, and from the throws to the jumps. We have a real team now. It is very exciting because everyone is doing his or her part. It is good to have a team--a real track team out there."
GH: Thanks, Ryan. Good luck next week!