BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Brandeis University junior Emily Bryson, of Quincy, won a national championship in the 3,000-meter run, blowing away the field in the final 400 meters at the NCAA Division III Track and Field Championships at the Birmingham Crossplex and hosted by Birmingham-Southern College.
Bryson, who entered the championship meet as the final entrant with the 17th-fastest qualifying time, stayed within the top eight for the first half of race, staying on the rail inside of the pack. She moved into the lead pack with about four laps to go, and in the final 400 meters pulled away. After running a blistering final lap of 30.67 seconds, Bryson won the race in 9:33.99, a full five seconds faster than runner-up Bryn McKillop of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps.
"I felt so good headed into the final 400 meters," Bryson said. "I didn't want to go too early, knowing how many other great runners there were in the race, but (Brandeis coach) Sinead (Evans) talked to me before the race about being patient. I was ready to go on those last two laps."
Bryson is Brandeis women's track and field's first individual national champion since 1997, when Victoria Petrillo (Class of '99) won the 800-meters. She Brandeis's first 3,000-meter run All-American since 1993, when Theresa Patten ('94) earned honors outdoors. Her time eclipsed the school record held by Nicole Fogarty ('89) since the late 1980s by six seconds and was the ninth-fastest time in Division III history.
With her second All-America honor of the meet, Bryson became the first Judge to finish in the top eight in two events since 2003, when Mariko Tansey Holbrook Neveu ('03) finished fifth in the 5,000-meters and third in the distance medley relay.
"I spent a lot of hours at Gosman," Bryson said. "And standing on 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."
"She ran brilliant," Evans said. "This was a goal all season long, to compete for a national title in the DMR (in which the Judges finished third on Friday night) and the 3,000. Emily was in great shape. I knew if she was within range of the leaders, she had the kick to win it, and she did exactly what she wanted to do."
With the 16 points scored by the Judges by Bryson in the 3K and by the DMR team, the Judges finished in a tie for 14th place in the team standings. That put them sixth among New England schools – including team champion UMass-Boston and runner-up Williams – and third among University Athletic Association teams.
For the men earlier in the evening on Saturday, graduate student Irie Gourde earned his first career All-America honor with an eighth-place finish in the 200-meter dash.
Gourde entered the meet ranked 10th in the 200 meters. He qualified for today's finals and clinched All-America status by finishing fifth in preliminaries with a time of 21.91 seconds. In the finals, running in the second section, Gourde finished in eighth place overall with a time of 22.09 seconds. Gourde becomes Brandeis's first-ever All-American in the 200-meter dash and the men's first indoor track and field All-American for the Judges since 2012.
"Irie showed incredible poise after his 400-meter prelim didn't go his way," said assistant coach Steve Flanagan. "He refocused and delivered immediately to earn a deserved All-America honor in the 200. That kind of resolve represents so much of what we aspire to be as a program."
The point Gourde scored in the event put Brandeis in a tie for 60th place in the team standings.