Senior Profile: Brendan Wortner

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Senior Profile: Brendan Wortner

School: Dobbs Ferry

Brendon Wortner loves cross country. The 5th place finisher at the NYSPHSAA Cross Country champs in Class C a year ago (16:30.3), the Dobbs Ferry native relishes the season’s diversity, its quirkiness, and the chance to bond with teammates. With a 16:10 cross country PR, and a 9:41 steeplechase mark under his belt on the track, Wortner loves pushing through rough terrain. He talks about the challenges he’s met and those that await him this fall.

Tell me about your start in running.

I’ve been doing it since the seventh grade. I thought I’d give it a try because my brother, Patrick, was doing it. He and my mother were kind of nagging me to do it.

What do you like about cross country?

I feel like you’re able to bond with your teammates because it’s treated more like a family. Pasta parties and stuff. It kind of reminds me of the whole family-bonding experience.

Has there been a race over the past couple of years that you considered a breakthrough?

I guess that would probably be this season at Sectionals at Pawling where I won. I wasn’t sure if I’d win or how I’d do. I have run on the course previously a number of times. (I asked myself) ‘Can I do this?’ When I crossed the finish line, I realized, right now, the sky’s the limit. If I can do this, there’s no limit to what I can do.

You come from a running family?

Yes. My brother, Patrick, runs at SUNY Geneseo. My mother, who ran in high school (at Clarkstown South) and a little bit in college, runs, too. She’s one of those marathoner people. She runs in a lot of long races. My grandfather actually ran four marathons in his lifetime.

I understand that you trained with your brother this summer.

I trained with him for most of the summer. We worked at the same cross country camp, run by the Westchester Track Club. We mostly ran at Rockefeller State (Park). We got in a lot of good training there.

How did the training go?

I felt I really did some good training over the summer with Patrick. There were some elite, African runners there. It was a real pleasure and a real honor to get to run with them.

Who were some of other people you trained with?

There was a guy named Avait from Ethiopia. He runs in a lot of New York Road Runnner races, a lot of 5K’s and 10K’s. He kind of kicked my butt a little, but it was good to know that I was able to run with those guys.

Has this been your best summer of training since you started running?

I did it last year, but it really wasn’t as intense. Now I have higher goals and higher expectations for my season. I’m really trying to step up my intensity.

I’m trying to run anywhere from 60-65 miles a week. I have been trying to raise the intensity because I believe it’s necessary to complete the goals I’ve set for myself.

What are those goals?

One of my goals is to try and win the state championship. It’s not that far away of a goal. At Feds last year, I kind of tanked. Ever since then I’ve been kind of wanting to redeem myself. … I want to qualify for the Nike Cross Nationals. I think it’d be really cool to fly out to Portland, Oregon and go to the big expo. I’ve heard it’s a lot of fun.

One of my goals is to try and get under 16 minutes for 5K. I want to try and break that barrier. I know it’s going to be hard. But I’m ready to give it a shot.

How much has your coach, J.P. Kaminsky, helped you?

He’s always been there. It’s always nice to know that if I have a problem or if I’m not sure about something, I can call him and he’ll always pick up.

Do you plan to run in college?

Yes. I am looking at SUNY Fredonia and SUNY Oneonta right now. I’m also looking at SUNY Geneseo. I’ve been up there a number of times, and have gotten used to the area. It’d be a nice place to go to school.

I plan to major in technical theatre. It involves set design, set building, working the lights and sort of stage-managing. More behind the scenes stuff.

You’ve done well in the steeplechase on the track. Are there any similarities to the steeplechase and cross country?

(The steeplechase) is harder than it seems. It takes a lot out of you. Especially if you’re a little bit off jumping the barriers.

You’ve just got to push through it and keep enduring. In cross country it’s the same thing. There are rolling hills. Sometimes you’ve got to go through mud and dirt and sometimes it takes you down. You just have to learn to push through, keep going.

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