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Fredonia’s Emily Brown runs past States to New Balance Nationals

File Photo by Tim Frank. Fredonia’s Emily Brown (No. 624) clears the barrier during the 2,000-meter steeplechase at the NYSPHSAA Track & Field Championships last Saturday at Middletown High School.

Emily Brown brakes for no one. Not even her coaches.

Fredonia’s junior track star laces up once again this weekend for the New Balance Nationals, in Greensboro, N.C. This is her first time competing in the event for either indoor or outdoor track, although she did make it one year for Cross Country.

This is just another feather in the cap of Brown’s accolades. Brown has been racing at a high level since around eighth grade, according to her indoor/outdoor track coach Tom Stokes. He believes her first appearance at States was her eighth grade year. Brown participates in cross country, indoor track and outdoor track, dedicating essentially her entire year to the craft.

Her dedication has always been that strong.

“She’s always had it,” said Brown’s cross country coach Carol Zirkle, of Fredonia. “She loves to compete and be involved in everything.”

Brown runs around the clock. Being a distance runner, endurance is the biggest factor of success, and she makes sure she is prepared. Brown often goes on a lengthy morning run before her normal workouts later in the afternoon, and doesn’t stop when the final bell in June rings. Both Zirkle and Stokes say it can be hard to stop her from running.

“If you tell her to run six miles, she thinks 10 sounds better. She thinks the hard days are the easy days,” said Zirkle.

The hardest thing to coach about Brown is that she doesn’t know when to stop. One of her coaches will tell her to take it easy, but Brown doesn’t seem to know that means.

“Getting her to take easy days and days off is more of a challenge than getting her to run the hardest workout there is. Putting the brakes on her is difficult,” Stokes said.

While these can lead to some concerns about her health, she’s just as smart as she is dedicated. She studies the craft, researches endlessly, attends intense camps across the nation, and knows all of her competition around the nation as well. But most importantly, she eats right and takes care of herself, which is the most important part of the job.

Brown’s motivation seemingly comes from her simple desire to be the best, which she is well on her way to doing.

“She is the most dedicated athlete I have ever coached, and she is the best type of athlete to coach,” Zirkle said.

Brown balances being humble and being the leader of her team. She is constantly leading her team through drills, all while remaining coachable herself. She looks for every opportunity she can to learn something new or gain some hidden edge.

While Zirkle first noticed Brown’s potential when she was in eighth grade, Stokes thinks Brown has yet to hit her peak.

“I still don’t know if I know her full potential. Sometimes she comes up with things she wants to do, and as coaches we sometimes think she’s pushing it too far sometimes, but she finds a way to meet them,” said Stokes. “I don’t know where her peak is, but I don’t think she’s reached it yet.”

Brown’s dedication knows no hurdles, distance, or competition. Her pride, work ethic, and humility are demonstrated to her coaches and teammates every day she takes the track, and there “isn’t enough good to say about her,” according to Stokes.

Brown wants to be the best runner she can be, wherever that ends up taking her. She strives to compete at the highest level, no matter how far in the distance that is. For a runner like Brown, that distance will certainly be closed quickly.

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