Photo courtesy of Cleveland State Athletics

Anna Brandt (right) competes in a meet at Youngstown State. On Jan. 18 at YSU, she recorded two top-10 finishes.

Feb. 4, 2019

Anna Brandt training to improve with every passing day

For two-sport student-athlete Anna Brandt, most fall mornings can be summed up in few words: Wake up at 5:50 a.m., get out of bed by 6 a.m., wash her face, brush her teeth, grab a snack and scurry to practice by 6:30 a.m.

This routine consistency defines Brandt, a sophomore student with a 4.0 GPA and member of Cleveland State’s cross country and track and field teams. And while her winter and spring workout schedules differentiate slightly from the fall, her goal remains the same — to improve every single day.

“In order to continue performing well, you always have to stay on top of things,” Brandt said. “In terms of athletics, you just try to always stay healthy, continue to do the training and trust in your coaches that that’s what you’re supposed to be doing.”

Up until this point, it seems as though she is reaching her goal just fine. As a freshman, she was named Horizon League Freshman of the Year for cross country and earned a spot on the All-Horizon League First Team after finishing seventh at the Horizon League Championship with a team-best 6K time of 22:52 – becoming the first Viking in program history to earn Freshman of the Year accolades.

According to Brandt, she had a greater understanding of what to expect going into her sophomore season. That enlightened sense of being led to a performance in which she set the Cleveland State 5K record time with a 17:55 finish, a third place individual finish at the Horizon League Championship and saw her named First Team All-Horizon League.

More recently, she was named Horizon League Runner of the Week for Jan. 15 for her track and field 800 Meter Run performance at the Marshall Women’s Classic, posting a Cleveland State record time of 2:14.75.

“I was a little surprised, I didn’t realize I was going to be awarded the honor that week so it did come as a shock to me,” Brandt explained. “I was really excited knowing I could run that time at this point in the season, but it was definitely still a shock to me – I did not expect that award at all.”

Brandt noted that she only has a combined three weeks of break time during the year — one week between cross country and indoor track and field and two weeks between outdoor track and field and cross country. She elaborated that she would rather have more break time, but the constant grind doesn’t bother her that much because of the support systems she has in place.

“As long as you have the love for it, you enjoy it and you have the love for your training, coaches and teammates — that’s what makes it worth it,” Brandt said.

If you ask her track and field head coach Madeleine Outman Carleton, Brandt’s commitment to the sport is unquestioned. Carleton recognizes the goals Brandt sets for herself in athletics and academics, as well as the steps she takes to remain organized.

“Anna is an example to the rest of our team,” Carleton said. “She is somebody that everybody looks up to, not just because she is a great athlete but because she has all the intangibles that any coach would love to have in an athlete.

“She is extraordinarily sportsman-like; she always competes with a lot of class; she is absolutely consistent, meaning that she is that person who is there at practice every day on time and not just present – she’s there bringing her A-game to every practice, and that’s really the key in track & field, consistency every single day.”

Carleton’s squad competed at the Youngstown State University Collegiate Invitational on Jan. 18, finishing with four top-10 performances. Brandt recorded two of them, while Monica Johnson and Mijah Collier earned the remaining two.

In the performance, Carleton noted a change in her team compared to previous years. In years past, Carleton said players would only look to compete for personal records instead of against their opponents because of how new the program, which started in the 2016-17 school year, was. It’s a growth that Carleton credits largely to her staff and the test of time.

“Now that we’re a couple years into the team being at Cleveland State officially, we have athletes who are looking beyond just themselves and not such deer in the headlights anymore,” Carleton said.

“They’re actually starting to believe that they can compete with these other schools even though they’re bigger and have more money than we do. I think they’ve started to develop confidence, and not feeling like, ‘Oh, we’re new, there’s no expectations for us.’ They’re starting to set higher expectations for themselves.”

While the rest of her team participated at the Spire Invitational on Jan. 25 and 26, Brandt competed against many of the larger schools Carleton described at the Penn State National on Jan. 26. She earned the invite based on her performances earlier in the season and was one of 35 runners who participated in the Mile Run.

Prior to the event, Brandt spoke of how it can be frightening when facing top-tier competition. The event featured only one other Horizon League runner, meaning there were many fresh faces for Brandt to encounter.

“When I go against bigger schools, I feel like there is a bit of an intimidation factor,” Brandt said. “But at the same time, you have to try to not let it get to you. You have to learn to trust yourself and believe in yourself that you’re supposed to be there.”

Judging by her performance, Brandt fit right in. She finished third in the Mile Run with a Cleveland State record time of 4:58.32, eclipsing the 5:00 mark for the first time in her career.


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