June 3, 2013
By Jon Cooper
Boasting a powerful kick, Georgia Tech 800-meter runner Brandon Lasater has shown a propensity to blow by opponents in the final 200 meters. Frequently those opponents never see him coming.
That last part is fitting, as Lasater never saw the success he’s had this outdoor season coming, either — at least not this quickly.
“At the beginning of the year my only goal for this year was to make it into an ACC Final,” said the sophomore from Perry, Ga. “The way I planned everything out last year I’d shoot for Regionals my junior year and then senior year make it into Nationals but it’s been accelerated quite a bit.”
He not only made it to the 800 Finals at ACCs but proceeded to win the event. He followed that up at NCAA Regionals on May 24th in Greensboro, N.C., running a 1:48.49, finishing 10th. The top 12 finishers qualified. This weekend Lasater will be one of four Yellow Jackets making the trip to Eugene, Oregon, to compete in the NCAA Championships at historic Hayward Field — Jonathan Gardner, Julienne McKee and Jhanelle McLeod, all triple jumpers, also qualified.
“The last few weeks have been alright,” he said. “I feel like Regionals were a little rough. I’m glad I made it, of course. But I didn’t race as well as I should have there. I’m just glad that it all worked out.”
Lasater won’t project how things will go this weekend, but he knows he’s mentally as ready as he’s ever going to be. That confidence has been growing.
“ACCs, that was the most confident I’ve ever been going into a race. It was probably the worst I’ve ever felt physically but I knew going in that as long as I didn’t mess up that I should be able to win,” he said. “It’s just a confident feel. At the beginning of the season, I’d get nervous through the race then do something that would mess up the race and have to quickly recover. Now it’s just being more calm and confident.”
Free of expectations, he expects to run calmly and confidently this weekend.
“Nothing is really expected of me. Anything I do is more of a personal goal at this point,” he said. “I’m definitely not a favorite or anything going in. So it’ll be really great to race against some of these people who historically perform very well. It should be a very good race. Also, the stadium is a very uplifting track community. So I’m looking forward to that experience as well.”
There is a difference between going in wide-eyed and with eyes wide open. Lasater plans to be of the latter, seeing the NCAA Championships as an opportunity to gauge himself against the best in the nation.
“I look forward to racing any of the Penn State guys. I don’t really know why, but for some reason I just enjoy racing them,” he said. “I think I’ve got Brandon Kidder in my race. I look forward to racing against him and, any of the really quick guys, like [Oregon’s] Elijah Greer. I’m not looking to beat them but just to be in a race with them would be neat.
“I’m going to go out a little more aggressively and see how it works out being with them at 600,” he added. “I’m planning on being a bit quicker than I’m used to but I’ll just kind of see what happens at that point.”
Being at such an early point of his career yet so far ahead of schedule is nice and Lasater is happy to be there. He’s anything but just happy to be there when it comes to the National Championships.
“There is definitely the aspect of at this point everything is more experience for future years but at the same time I can’t just be happy with what I’ve done so far,” he said. “It would be nice to say, ‘Oh well, I made it.’ You still have to perform at that level when you’re there, see if I can squeeze a little bit more out.”
Then he can work on revising his timetable.