Staff Photo: Brendan Sullivan Track star Josh Brickell an upcoming senior at Peachtree Ridge has been selected as the Gwinnett Daily Post's boys track runner of the year. Brickell placed third in the state for the mile and placed first in the state in the two mile.
It's kind of hard to imagine someone winning a state championship and having a down year.
But Peachtree Ridge runner Josh Brickell has set the bar so high for himself that winning just one state title was considered a sub-par year for the junior standout.
Brickell won the Class AAAAA state championship in the 3,200-meter run, a day after taking third in the 1,600.
"I guess it kind of makes it a disappointing year because I had won both the year before," said Brickell, the Daily Post's Runner of the Year. "That was the goal to repeat again."
Brickell was the defending state champion in the 1,600 and was on his way to winning another title in the event with 200 meters left in the race. Then in the final 10 meters he was passed and took third.
It was first time since his freshman year that Brickell lost a state championship race in cross country or track.
He came back the next day and posted a time of 9 minutes, 10.40 seconds to win the 3,200. It was the fastest time in the state this year. The win also gave Brickell his fifth (two in cross country, three in track) individual state title overall.
"Track wasn't the best, but I kind of picked it up at the end," Brickell said. "At state, the mile, that was rough getting third."
Two weeks after the state meet, Brickell showed he's still one of the state's top distance runners in the mile. He participated in a regional meet in Florida and took second in the mile, which is nine meters longer than the 1,600.
"I think that race Saturday gave him a lot of confidence," Peachtree Ridge coach Ron Clanton said.
His time of 4:12.37 in the mile converted to the top 1,600 time in the state this season.
"It definitely makes me a lot more confident because it had been a while since I had a breakout race on the track, especially in the mile," Brickell said.
The runner-up finish at the Golden South Classic was the start of a high profile summer for Brickell. He's going to Greensboro, N.C. this weekend to compete in the New Balance National Outdoor meet.
He was also selected as one of 10 male athletes in the country to participate in the Nike Elite Camp. It's a one-week camp in Portland, Ore., where the nation's top runners train together under some of the best coaches and professional athletes in the country.
"I was really excited when I found that out and what the camp was," Brickell said.
"It will be really neat to learn from the other athletes. It will be a lot to soak up and a great learning experience."
The camp will conclude with the athletes going to Hayward Field, the mecca for track and field, in Eugene, Ore., to run an exhibition race during the U.S. Olympic Trials.
"That will be pretty neat to run on Hayward Field, especially with those guys," Brickell said.
With the type of success Brickell has had so far, it may not be the last time he runs at Hayward Field or at an Olympic Trial.
"That definitely would be pretty neat. It would be pretty tough," Brickell said.