Brown looks to improve on already stellar career

Senior Emily Brown was an All-American in both cross country and track last year.

by Zach Eisendrath

In his 22 years of coaching, Minnesota women’s cross country coach Gary Wilson has never seen a crop of runners as talented as those that currently comprise the Big Ten conference.

And, in Wilson’s opinion, senior Emily Brown is as gifted as any of them.

“I think she is every bit as good as anybody in the conference,” Wilson said.

Brown, the Gophers’

No. 1 runner, has shouldered the load for Minnesota during the first month of the season, and in the process has put herself and the Gophers in prime position for the Big Ten Championships.

Brown already has two individual race victories this year.

Last weekend, Brown blew past her competition at the South Dakota State Classic in Brookings, S.D., covering

the five-kilometer course in 17:8.7, 10 seconds better than teammate Ladia Albertson-Junkans, who finished in second place.

The West Allis, Wis., native also placed first at the Oz Memorial Run. On that day, Brown recorded the fastest six-kilometer time ever by a Minnesota runner on the Gophers’ home course – clocking in at 20 minutes and 48.26 seconds, helping Minnesota defeat Drake.

Brown said she credits her success to her veteran stature, saying she has improved each year because of the appreciation she has gained for the sport.

Brown also mentioned her smart offseason regimen as a large contributor to her accomplishments.

“I increased my mileages just a little bit,” Brown said. But basically I was just being smart in making sure that I stay healthy. I think the biggest thing was just consistency this summer.”

But Brown wasn’t always comfortable in her position. She said it took time to get used to running five to seven days a week, as well as the

intense workouts that she

said “can be pretty demanding.”

After redshirting her first year because of foot surgery, Brown performed well in

her freshman year; she was Minnesota’s top finisher in three events. Her sophomore campaign, however, started with a major step backward when she was forced to miss several early season meets after she once again needed foot surgery.

After only being able to participate in four months during a two-year span, Wilson offered Brown words of encouragement.

“I told her, if you can stay healthy for a whole year, you’ll be appreciably better,” he said.

Brown stayed healthy and her potential finally came to fruition last season.

As a junior, Brown became the first Minnesota runner in 20 years to be named an All-American in both cross country and track.

Last November, Brown finished 29th at the NCAA Championships in Terre Haute, Ind., with a time of 20:26.5, the fastest time in school history. Brown also placed third at the NCAA Midwest Region Championships, with a time of 20:55, and third overall at the Big Ten Championships with a time of 21:11:7.

Albertson-Junkans, the Gophers’ No. 2 runner, said Brown might be the most talented runner on perhaps the most talented team in program history. The junior from Stillwater said Brown has the capability of placing first at the Big Ten Championships at the end of the month.

“She’s accomplished some amazing things already and she has the potential to accomplish a lot more,” Albertson-Junkans said.

Brown said she has lofty goals for her final season, which include stronger finishes across the board.

“Basically my main goal for this year is just to drop time at every meet and see where that gets me,” Brown said.

Wilson said Brown has made tremendous progress because she is smarter and more savvy this year.

“She’s picked up right where she left off last season,” he said. “In fact, she’s better

than she was last year. She’s even a step above that this year.”