* Brynn Brown during the elite girls 5K at the Texas Distance Festival
Photo Credit: Stuart Kantor/Texas MileSplit
"There's nothing like running a 5K solo. It was tough out there, but I held on. I'm really proud of the effort. Super grateful." - Brynn Brown
SOUTHLAKE, TEXAS - Late Saturday night, the striking image of fearlessness took shape at the Texas Distance Festival.
Set it up. Drill it down. Fight until the very end.
With four laps to go, they both found themselves within grasp of the mission.
"After that seventh lap, it was starting to hurt," Wolfe said. "I knew that last mile was going to be a burner. I put it all out there and thought I got it done."
Ultimately, Brown, the Denton Guyer senior and University of North Carolina signee, became the eighth high school female to break 16 minutes in an outdoor 5K, clocking a time of 15:56.89. She was the 10th across either indoor or outdoor track.
Wolfe, meanwhile, came close to eclipsing 14 minutes, finishing in 14:06.48, which landed the Cherry Creek senior and fellow Tar Heels recruit at No. 17 on the all-time outdoor charts and No. 18 across either indoor or outdoor track.
On both ends, history served each. Brown set a new Texas state record, while Wolfe earned the same distinction in Colorado.
But both knew that in order to achieve their desired outcomes, they had to focus not on the field around them but on their internal quest around the track. For 12 and a half laps, it was their bodies against the clock.
"There's nothing like running a 5K solo," Brown said. "It was tough out there, but I held on. I'm really proud of the effort. Super grateful."
Consider the timing. In March, few athletes in high school track and field are often ready to produce personal record performances this early -- the vast majority are often still in build-up phase.
"I love being able to just train without having a season right now. I think it's definitely good to have that big training block. To get ready, get regrouped and get ready for the season." -- Parker Wolfe
But for elite athletes like Wolfe and Brown, being laser-focused on an objective doesn't really have a season. If March was the goal, then their training cycles had to reflect that.
Brown ran just one indoor race. Wolfe ran none.
The Cherry Creek senior, in particular, even employed a different approach to the 5K.
"I did a couple 8x400s at mile race pace," he said of his focus on speed work ahead of time. "I did some 8x300s. Getting that speed up. Worked in 5x1K one week or a nice tempo run. But usually a workouts were not more than 3-4 miles. Right around where a 5K would be. It really worked out."
The crazy part? This was Wolfe's debut.
"I love being able to just train without having a season right now," said Wolfe, who ended the cross country season ranked No. 1 in the MileSplit50. "I think it's definitely good to have that big training block. To get ready, get regrouped and get ready for the season."
And how about race day? While all the variables beforehand had to add up, things had to come together on the night, too.
In the case of the Texan, she shed the field in the matter of two laps. A fast first mile in roughly 4:53 set the stage.
"I love the pressure," she said. "It gives you that boost of adrenaline. And I feel like I can use that to make me run faster. I didn't internalize it in a negative way. It was more of a positive thing. I love the pressure. I love being under the lights."
By the seventh lap, she was starting to navigate traffic, and by the eighth, things started to feel more difficult as she tried to hold on.
"I was hoping to hit around 4:56 to 5-flat pace for the entirety of the race," she said. "But I just kind of fell apart. Halfway through I had to mentally focus and regroup."
That specific focus on the mission did in fact get Brown there.
She scored a final lap of 77 seconds, securing the mark. While she would have loved to run faster, she said, she believes she could get another opportunity later in the postseason.
"We're going to look and see postseason if we can find anything," she said.
In the meantime, Brown will look to claim a Texas triple in May: She's going for state titles in the 800m, 1,600m and 3,200m.
Wolfe, on the other hand, looked like an 800m runner in his first 200m on Saturday night.
He flew through the first half-lap in 29 seconds before clocking a 69-second first lap. Coppell's Evan Caswell was with Wolfe before he backed off by mile two.
The goal for Wolfe, though, was to never step off the gas.
He continued to push through that first mile, flying into the first frame in 4:30.
He stayed focused throughout, hammering 68- and 69-second laps through the first 10 quarters.
But he knew he had to take it to another level in the final 1,200m.
There, Wolfe put down 66-second counters on his final three laps.
"Especially being my first track race (of 2021), I'm very happy with how I performed," he said. "The effort I put out there was definitely what I needed to be to break that time."
With the start of the Colorado outdoor season pushed to May, Wolfe says he's going to look into pursuing another out-of-state race in the next few weeks.
"Focusing on the mile and two mile is kind of my goal from here on out," he said.
However, Wolfe didn't close the door on another 5K.
"Maybe end of the season try another 5K, try to get under 14," he said.
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