Emily Bryson takes home the National Championship in the 3000 meter

March 16, 2018

Six Judges went to Birmingham, AL for the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field National Championship. The team finished in 14th place in the national team standings, finishing with six trophies and six All-American awards. Leinni Valdez ’21, Lisbeth Valdez ’21, Irie Gourde ’17, HS ’18, Emily Bryson ’19, Julia Bryson ’19 and Doyin Ogundiran ’19 competed in the NCAA Championships. The Judges competed in the distance medley relay, 3000-meter, 200-meter dash, and 400-meter dash. These awards beat a school record for the women’s team and an All-American caliber performance for the men’s team. All six honors earned the school third place in All-American honors. This was Emily Bryson’s fourth overall All-American honors. This also makes her the first woman to win multiple All-American honors for Brandeis at the same meet since Mariko Tansey Holbrook Neveu ’03 in 2003.

Both Bryson sisters, Ogundiran, and Lisbeth Valdez all competed in the distance medley earning third nationally. Julia Bryson started the race running the 1,200-meter leg. She then handed the baton to Valdez who ran the 400-meter leg. The next runner, Ogundiran, ran the 800-meter leg, putting the Judges in the top eight. The final runner, Emily Bryson, got the Judges in third place, passing regional rivals MIT down in the final stretch of the race. They finished the race with a final time of 11:42.97. This time broke a school record set in 2003 by 0.39 seconds.

According to the Brandeis Judges website, after the race Coach Sinead Evans spoke about the team’s performance. “Everyone ran brilliantly. It’s such a tactical race. Julia did exactly what we wanted her to do leading off. Lisbeth Valdez—a freshman at her first nationals, who has been so consistent all season long—executed her plan just like she wanted to. Doyin ran one of her fastest 800’s of the season and brought everyone back in, and Emily just reeled them in. It was an exciting race.”

Emily Bryson entered the 3000-meter championship with the 17-fastest qualifying time. That didn’t slow Bryson down at all. After the first half of the race, she was in the top eight. Without hesitation, Bryson moved to the head of the pack with four laps to go and in the final 400 meters she pulled away to earn herself a lead that secured her victory. She ran the race in 9:33.99, running the final lap in 30.67 seconds. She ran a full five seconds faster than the second place runner from Claremont-Mudd-Scripps. Bryson told the Brandeis Judges website, “I felt so good headed into the final 400 meters. I didn’t want to go too early, knowing how many other great runners there were in the race, but [head coach] Sinead [Evans] talked to me before the race about being patient. I was ready to go on those last two laps.” With this final race of the season, she now holds the ninth-fastest time in Division III history. Bryson is also Brandeis women’s track and field first individual national champion since 1997. She is also the first 3,000-meter All-American runner for Brandeis since 1993. Reflecting on the season, Bryson told the Brandeis Judges, “I spent a lot of hours at Gosman, and standing on the top of that podium, it really felt like all that hard work paid off. Sinead has been great and had so much confidence in me. My coaches and teammates were so supportive all year long.”

For the men, Gourde earned his first All-American honors with his eighth-place finish in the 200-meter dash. Gourde entered the meet ranked 10th in the 200-meter. He finished prelims in fifth place to earn his All-American status with a time of 21.91 seconds. In the finals, he finished with a time of 22.09 seconds. Gourde became the first Brandeis All-American in the 200-meter dash and the men’s first indoor track and field All-American for the Judges since 2012. Coach Steve Flanagan told the Brandeis Judges website, “Irie showed incredible poise after his 400-meter prelim didn’t go his way. He refocused and delivered immediately to earn a deserved All-American honor in the 200. That kind of resolve represents so much of what we aspire to be as a program.” After this incredible meet, the Brandeis community came together to celebrate the victories of all the athletes to complete the success of the Track and Field indoor season.

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