Women’s mile and DMR are national champions

Women’s mile and DMR are national champions

Emily Bryson ’19 led The Judges to a historic weekend this past Friday and Saturday at the NCAA Division III Indoor Track and Field Championships, held at Reggie Lewis Center in Boston. In addition to anchoring the Distance Medley Relay (DMR) team, which won the first relay title in school history, E. Bryson also won the mile with the fifth fastest time in Division III history with a time of 4:45.796.

“My strategy was just to grab a spot on the inside of lane one and get in place right behind the leaders and then with 200 to go I was just going to kick to the finish,” E. Bryson said. E. Bryson, who won her third national title this past weekend after winning the indoor 3000 last year, was the top seed time heading into the race. “I knew a lot of people were expecting me to deliver the same performance,” she said. “With the meet being at home and friends, family, teammates and staff being there, I knew I didn’t want to come up short,” she added.

After trailing Anna Passannante, a junior from Williams College, for the first six laps, E. Bryson pulled ahead with a 32.83 on her final lap, her fastest lap of the race. “I knew from watching [Passannante] race that she really likes to push the pace on the last three laps, so I knew heading into the last 600 [meters] that it was going to be tough,” E. Bryson said.

In the fifth lap, E. Bryson dropped to fourth place, well behind Passannante. Despite nearly creating too much of a gap to come back from, E. Bryson was determined to win the race. “I had a split second thought where I told myself it was over,” E. Bryson said. “But I quickly told myself to just stay relaxed and focused and reminded myself how bad I wanted this.” The mile was E. Bryson’s third race in a 24-hour span. In addition to the preliminary heat on Friday, E. Bryson ran the 1600 meter in the DMR.

In the DMR, Emily’s twin sister, Julia Bryson ’19, started by running the 1200 meter leg in 3:37.07. Next, Devin Hiltunen ’22 ran the 400 in 59.70. “My goal was to stay within 10 seconds of first place,” Hiltunen said. Despite being the only first-year on a team of seniors, Hiltunen was unfazed.

Doyin Ogundiran ’19 followed Hiltunen and ran the 800 in 2:13.75, the second fastest time in the heat. Ogundiran passed the baton to E. Bryson, who ran the 1600 in 4:50.10. It wasn’t until the final lap, which E. Bryson ran in 31 seconds, that she took the lead. Hiltunen and both Bryson twins were teammates at North Quincy High School in Quincy, M.A., where the trio participated in the DMR. Hiltunen, who at the UAA Championships finished fifth in the 200 and eighth in the 400, raced frequently at Reggie Lewis Center in high school. “I know exactly how to run that track,” Hiltunen said. “I didn’t really feel any pressure.”

The team now transitions to the outdoor season. Hiltunen is excited to run the 200 and 400 again as well as the 4×400, where the relay team’s goal is to break four minutes. E. Bryson hopes to set personal bests in the 5000 meter and 1500. E. Bryson is also looking forward to the UAA Championships, which will be held at Emory University in Atlanta on April 27 and April 28.

Bryson ranks among Brandeis’s most decorated track athletes. She is the only Judge to win a national title in three separate events and the second to win two titles in one championship weekend. There are only three Judges who have won more national titles than E. Bryson.

“My coaches have been so instrumental in my progression as an athlete and truly have given me every opportunity and tool to succeed,” Bryson said. “I sometimes question that I spend way too much time in Gosman, but it’s the moments like this that remind me that it’s all worth it,” she added.“This will definitely be my favorite memory. Winning an individual national title is quite a special moment, but nothing compares to that moment when you realize you can share it with three other equally deserving people,” Bryson said.

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