Nov. 24, 2003
ATLANTA – Brendon Mahoney will be the first to tell you that running cross country isn’t his favorite thing to do. The fifth-year senior is one of the team’s top performers, but his heart belongs to track.
“Cross country is a totally different sport as far as distance and the type of workouts,” he explained. “Right now, I’m running about 85 miles a week. Cross country, for me, is about getting ready for track season. Track is really my first love, so I just have to grin and bear it through the fall.”
Despite his relative distaste for the sport, Mahoney has been one of the program’s best runners the last three seasons. He placed 12th at the ACC Championships last season, and he notched two top-ten finishes as a redshirt freshman in 2000.
Meanwhile on the track, Mahoney is a two-time all-American as a middle distance specialist, and his name is peppered throughout the school’s record books.
Cross country head coach Alan Drosky has convinced Mahoney that running in the fall is important to maintaining his edge during the indoor and outdoor track seasons.
“You just show him that the benefits he’s getting from cross country are going to pay huge dividends during track season, so he sees how important it is,” said Drosky, who in his 13th year at his alma mater. “The track season is long, probably from January to July, so in order to be successful to have a lot of strength and endurance.”
After some initial resistance, Mahoney now recognizes the benefits of running cross country, especially since this is his final season.
“Before, I didn’t appreciate cross country as a competitive sport, just because I’m not a cross country guy,” he said. “But this year will be my last time running cross country in my career, so I think I appreciate it a lot more. The team as a whole is looking as good as we’ve ever looked, so I’m excited to see what we can do in the ACC.”
While his career on The Flats is entering its final stretch, Mahoney has his sights set much higher: the 2004 Olympics.
“It’s something I’ve thought about my whole life,” he remarked. “As a kid, it’s something you aspire to. It would be an awesome experience.”
“Brendon has all the tools necessary to be successful at that level,” noted Drosky. “It’s a combination of strength, speed and mental approach. He’s got the tools, which a prerequisite to compete at that level. Everything has to go just right to be ultimately successful at that level.”
Mahoney has established himself among the elite college runners, so he’s anxious to see how he’ll stack up against the nation and world’s best. Several former Tech runners that have struck Olympic gold have inspired Mahoney to aim for the Games.
“All through my years at Tech, I’ve watched Angelo Taylor, Derek Mills and Derrick Adkins, three Olympic gold medallists, on the track training,” he said. “I’m friends with all of them. It’s cool just to see how they work, their focus and state of mind. It makes you realize that these guys went through the same things that you did, and they were able to get it done.”
The native Georgian, who attended the Marist School in Atlanta, is set to graduate in the spring with a management degree, and he’s leaning towards heading to the west coast to train for the Olympics. The trials are in June, and he feels good about his chances to make it all the way to Athens.
He got some additional motivation when Taylor brought his gold medal to practice one day. Mahoney recalled that “it was very cool.”