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Ford Enters Final Stretch

May 13, 2005

by Simith Shah – For a sprinter, everything is a blur. That’s definitely the case for Georgia Tech’s Brian Ford, who can hardly believe that his collegiate career is entering the final stretch.

“I remember thinking as a freshman, `I’ve got more four years. That’s a long way to go.’ Well, here I am getting ready for my last few weeks,” said the senior.

The Ashland, Virginia native is making the most of his final season in white and gold. Ford has been Tech’s top 200 and 400 meter competitor while posting career-best times. His best weekend of the spring came in early April at the Clemson invitational, as he ran a ran a NCAA Region qualifying time of 21.18 in the men’s 200-meter dash to finish in second place. He also posted a time of 47.57 in the men’s 400 to finish in third place and then ran a leg of the 4x400m relay team that clocked a season-best time of 3:10.24, finishing second.

“This season has certainly been the best season by far I’ve had at Georgia Tech,” he stated. “Coach has been incredibly happy with the way things have been going, and so have I. For a final season, I couldn’t have asked for a season to go any better than it has.”

During the indoor season, Ford finished second at the ACC Championships in the 400 meters and then posted a personal-best time of 21.60 in the 200 meters, earning all-ACC honors for both classifications.

“He just seems to be in a comfort zone,” observed coach Grover Hinsdale, who is in his 26th season at Tech. “He seems to have adapted to the training, and his mental approach to competition has been fantastic this year. I think that’s the biggest difference. He’s worked hard since he was a freshman, so it’s never been a lack of hard work, but he just seems to have opened his mind to preparing for competition and handling that so much better.”

As a freshman, Ford was named the ACC’s Indoor Track and Field Rookie of the Year after coming to Tech as one of the top prep track athletes in the nation. He was part of the 4×400 relay team that won conference titles in both the indoor and outdoor seasons.

While he has been solid the last two seasons, Ford felt he could do much better in his final campaign, and that goal has materialized this season.

“I’ve gotten back my focus this year,” he explained. “I came in my freshman year focused, but I haven’t quite been there the last couple of years. This year I got back into some things that I feel like I need to take care of. I’ve made sure I’ve concentrated on the little things like hydrating and making sure I’m getting enough sleep. Those are the things I know I can take care of that are going to help me perform better.”

While running the 400 meter dash at last weekend’s Orange & Purple Classic at Clemson, Ford felt a slight pop in his hamstring. He’s been working with the training staff two or three times a day to accelerate his recuperation. As a precaution, he’ll sit out this weekend’s Georgia Tech Invitational in order to be completely healthy for the NCAA East Regional in two weeks.

A strong performance at the regional will earn Ford a berth at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Sacramento in June. After that, he’ll evaluate his options with Hinsdale as to whether to continue his track career.

“There comes a time in every athlete’s life, whether you want to or not, that you have to be real with yourself,” said Ford, a dean’s list student. “If it’s not something I’m going to continue, the next phase of my life will begin. I won’t be mad at that, because it’s something I’ve been looking forward to since I started college.”

The management major is just a few credits shy of earning his degree, and he is on track to graduate in the fall. He’s planning to find a job in Atlanta and then eventually enter graduate school, if he opts not to continue running competitively.

“He has set a great example for not just his group, but for the entire team,” said Hinsdale. “He’s shown that you can come through here, take part in extracurricular activities, be successful in track, be successful in school and carry yourself with dignity and class. He’s been able to combine all those things. I’ll definitely miss him.”

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