Cross Country Sports

Freshman runner eager to compete for Team USA

Freshman cross country runner Brian Barraza said she was optimistic for collegiate success, but didn’t expect the magnitude of which he has been able to grasp so quickly.

He has earned the opportunity to compete with Team USA at the 2014 International Association of Athletics Federations World Junior Championships on Friday in Eugene, Oregon.

“Going into it, I thought that I had a pretty good chance; I was one of four athletes that had the qualifying standards to make it to worlds,” Barraza said. “I was really just thinking to do as much as I could to make the team because being a part of Team USA is pretty big.”

Barraza said his quick successes as a runner are due to his training habits and having a head coach that knows how to get athletes where they desire to be.

“Brian is getting to compete against not only the best junior athletes in the world, but also some athletes who compete on the elite and professional level,” said cross country head coach Steve Magness. “It’s a big step in Brian’s running career. Any time you get to put a USA jersey on, it elevates the importance to another level.”

Barraza is from El Paso, Texas and attends school in Houston, but doesn’t believe the southern climate he has grown accustomed to will affect his performance running up north. His main obstacle while running is the mental battle he faces.

He believes that if he can maintain his mental strength, then the physical aspect will take care of itself.

“Mainly I’ve been working on keeping my body tuned, just staying where I’m at because I’ve been doing a lot of speed work so I feel like I’ll be able to toss in some pretty quick laps,” Barraza said.

Barraza qualified for the IAAF Championships after finishing second in the 5000m run at the USATF Junior Championships on July 5. This is the same event he is set to compete in on July 25.

“I just wanted to improve and I feel like I have a lot since high school so I’m pretty on par with what I’ve wanted to do, and I just want to keep the improvements coming,” Barraza said.

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