Story by Taylor Soule
Junior Brogan Austin felt the pressure on Thursday night as he rounded the blue oval in the 5,000 meters at the Drake Relays. The high stakes weren’t to blame, though. Neither was the tough competition. Familiar faces and voices in the stands put the pressure on Austin.
“It applied more pressure on me to do well,” Austin said. “That was probably a difference-maker in me being able to kick as much as I did, was cheering from my friends giving me that extra adrenalin to go the distance.”
Austin translated that pressure into a surge of energy and a Relays victory — the first by a Drake track and field athlete in 18 years. Drake Stadium last saw a Drake triumph in 1995 when Gina DeWitt claimed the 800-meter crown.
The win was doubly rewarding for Austin, who took second place at the Relays three times prior, going all the way back to his days as a prep athlete at Boone.
“It was more a relief than anything,” Austin said. “I’ve been stressing out about it for quite a while.”
He won the race with a time of 14:12.50.
Though he had long prepared for Thursday’s race, Austin said track is always unpredictable to a degree. Athletes can only train and hope the race plays in their favor.
“You really don’t what kind of race it’s going to be until it starts, so you kind of hope it plays into your agenda,” Austin said. “You can’t really control the race. It kind of opened up, and I have a lot of tools in my tool bag to make some things happen.”
Those tools gave Austin energy to pick up the pace and create a gap in the last 400 meters.
As he rounded the last curve, Austin stayed cautious even as he took the lead.
“Even coming around the home stretch, I had no idea and thought someone was going to come around and get it, but I got the win,” Austin said.
Thursday’s victory revealed a renewed Austin, who battled anemia during the 2012 cross country campaign. Though the road to health was long and discouraging at times, Austin said Thursday’s win made all the pain and work “worth it.”
“We work hard in the offseason,” Austin said. “While you’re doing it, it’s pretty depressing, and you ask yourself, ‘Why?’ but you keep doing what you do. This kind of experience it all worth it.”
Though he reveled in Thursday’s win at Drake Stadium, Austin already has the next race and the next goal in mind. The Missouri Valley Conference (MVC) Outdoor Championships open May 10 at Drake Stadium.
Austin said the Relays win positions him to reach a new goal at the MVC Championships.
“I’m hoping to run a good time,” Austin said. “Hopefully, I can get the school record.”