May 25, 2016
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Brendan Johnson is ready.
That's the sentiment of American University head coach Matt Centrowitz regarding the preparation Johnson has done for Thursday's NCAA East Preliminary Round of the men's 10,000-meter run.
Johnson, an Eagle junior from Waldorf, Md., will join 47 other student-athletes in the 10K on Thursday at 9:45 p.m. The top 12 finishers in the East prelims advance to the NCAA Outdoor National Championships from June 8 to 11 in Eugene, Ore.
"Everything has gone very well from the conference meet to now," Centrowitz said of the work following Johnson's individual title at the Patriot League Outdoor Championships.
"He's under-raced and is very healthy. The timing of this is perfect compared to some guys who race too often this time of year.
"Brendan is excited to be here and it will be fun for him to compete against these guys."
Johnson ranks 40th among those in the East Prelims, with his mark of 21:41.51 from the Raleigh Relays in March having held up as his season-best. He also finished third in the Patriot League in the 5,000 and was named the PL Scholar-Athlete of the Year for men's outdoor track.
Centrowitz said the large field will be something Johnson will be able to handle.
"Distance runners are used to those things, especially from cross country," he said. "Nobody will be in a big rush over the first 5K… It can be a distraction with that many people, but it can be a positive too. It gives you something to think about rather than the endless succession of (25) laps."
Johnson's breakout spring is the result of his health and his ability to put in hard work, according to Centrowitz.
"He's got an appetite for competition," said the coach. "He never got in the swing of things until this year.
"It took him two years to get out of high school work, and be able to do national-class training with Chris and Ryan."
Training with assistant coaches Chris Kwiatkowski and Ryan Mahalsky, who are continuing their running careers working under Centrowitz, has helped Johnson.
Johnson's appearance at the NCAA East Prelims comes just one season after AU's last run at this level. Joshua Ellis was 27th in the men's 3,000-meter steeplechase a year ago after qualifying in 46th.
This year's meet is hosted by the University of North Florida.