Brooke Mullins makes history with NCAA championship visit
When athletes come to Drake from all over the world, fans aren’t quite sure of what the athletes are capable of until they compete for the first time, and for Australian senior Brooke Mullins, her journey as a Bulldog has reached a high that will be hard for others to match for years to come.
Mullin’s journey at Drake will leave her name in the history books for years to come, and it is easy to see why. She was the first woman from Drake to win a Drake Relays title since 1955 in the steeplechase, finishing with a time of 10 minutes, 13 seconds. Mullins is also the first woman to qualify for the NCAA cross country championship since 2005 when Ashley Anklam stepped up for the Bulldogs.
Qualifying for the NCAA championship has been a goal for Mullins since the beginning of her running career. Mullins qualified after finishing seventh in the Missouri Valley Conference regional 6k race.
“There [have] been many seasons in the past where it hasn’t ended the way I’ve wanted, but each year I’ve learnt from my mistakes to come back better and stronger,” Mullins said. “Making [the NCAA championship] is a great way to start my senior year. I’m feeling a sense of accomplishment and somewhat relieved.”
Knowing how high the stakes were for her in this tournament, Mullins reflected on her hard work and all the steps that she and the people around her took to get her to the NCAA championship.
“Hours on end have been put in both from a coaching staff standpoint and my own, so to be able to hit goals and have breakthroughs is an unreal feeling. Nothing is more motivating than seeing hard work paying off,” Mullins said prior to the competition.
254 athletes competed in the NCAA championship 6k race from all over the nation. They strived to either claim the title as an individual or to put points up for their team to prove who is the best. Knowing that only 254 women in the United States qualified for this race made the accomplishment even more rewarding Mullins said.
Making the NCAA championships is big for any athlete, but in Mullins’ case, she was the only person from Drake to qualify, meaning that she represented the Bulldogs on her own. Although the championship was all the way in Charlottesville, Virginia, Mullins knew she was being backed up by the whole Bulldog pack back home.
“Being the only one from Drake doesn’t bring pressure. Like any meet, I see this as another great opportunity,” Mullins said. “More so, I appreciate any chance I get to represent Drake University at a national level and aim to do that to the best of my ability.”
During the race, 247 athletes finished, leaving only seven who didn’t. In this mix of 247 women, Mullins placed 118th with a clean 20:48.2 6k time. With less than two minutes between Parker Valby from the University of Florida, who placed in first, and Mullins in 118th, the best of the best brought their “A” game during this race.
After competing against elite athletes across the nation, Mullins will continue to hunt for opportunities to compete at that high level again in the future. With a whole team of support behind her, it is no wonder she has placed so well.
“On behalf of the women’s team, we are all super proud and happy for Brooke on making it to nationals,” teammate Vanessa Lee said. “It is a huge achievement that we know she has been trying to do for a while and finally made it. Brooke is a great team leader and works hard, consistently showing up each day. She is also someone you can always count on for a fun chat, a joke and good spirit. We are so blessed to have a teammate who has set out to achieve her goals at the highest level of cross country competition who still stays so humble and kind.”
Knowing what she is capable of, Mullins will now compete to earn a spot at this year’s Drake Relays, where she will have her final race of her career as a Bulldog. Although her path after college is unclear, it is safe to say that Mullins will continue to find success everywhere she goes.