Feb. 6, 2013
Her favorite race is the 400 meters, but Alena Brooks has also had success at the 600m and 800m distances. After posting a 2:06.24 800m time at the Meyo Invitational last Saturday, Brooks now ranks No. 2 all-time in Minnesota history in the event. She is No. 1 in the Big Ten and No. 6 in the NCAA this season. Brooks took some time to talk about her personal record race, what she did over the summer and more.
GopherSports: Talk about your race last weekend, and how it felt afterwards to be No. 2 all-time.
Alena Brooks: Coach and I planned to get in a fast heat so we could test where I’m at and get a fast time. I just kind of ran. I knew how strong I was to the end, so I was confident in that. I felt really good. I felt blessed. As an athlete, you always envision yourself doing good things. You don’t envision doing bad. I kept envisioning it, and I kept seeing myself doing well. I’m seeing the times I’m doing in practice and I’m calculating, “Well, I should be running around this time.” So I’m seeing it I just have to get it done. So when I crossed the line and I saw my time, I was really happy.
GS: You ran at some major national and international competitions in Trinidad over the summer. What was that like?
AB: This summer was crazy. Last year was crazy, because I had a good season and the week of my first meet I got injured, so I was out for the entire indoor season. Coming back, I kind of reinjured myself a bit, so I wasn’t where I needed to be. I just told myself, “I’ve got to work through this. I’ve got to work to make a team to represent my country, because that’s all I’ve been working for.” I kept pushing myself. A lot of people were telling me, “Just call it quits for the season. It doesn’t make any sense spending all that money to go home. You won’t make the team.” But I was like, “No.” I called my coach from back home, and he said, “Yes, you can do this.” We worked it out and I was training here. I went home and I ran my tail off to make the team, and I did. So I was really happy and I felt really blessed about that. I came back and Coach Bingle and I talked, and we really worked things out and I followed every single thing that he told me to do. It’s working out pretty well.
GS: The indoor season is so short that it’s already almost time for the Big Ten and NCAA Championships. How are you preparing for Big Tens and hopefully NCAAs?
AB: Right now, I’m just taking everything one at a time, because previously I would just overwhelmed by all these things coming up. It’s so short. So now I’m just focused on one thing at a time. I’m prepared and, yes, I still have things to fix, but we’re working on it. So I’m not getting myself all flustered about all of these things.
GS: Is it nice having other teammates from the Caribbean?
AB: I love having Te’Shon (Adderley) around. She’s so funny. She reminds me of back home and my friends from before, like Bianca (Dougan) and Nyoka (Giles). So it’s good to have someone who’s accustomed to my culture and my food, so she doesn’t watch me strange.
GS: You’ve been in Minnesota for several years now, but is there anything that still seems weird to you?
A: I just never get why, when it’s cold outside, people are dressed in little stuff like this track warm-up jacket I have on right now. I always have on two jackets. Sometimes I have on vests underneath.
GS: What are some things you like to do for fun with your teammates when you’re away from the track?
AB: I like when we have "Minute to Win It." Sometimes we have team bonding. I like "Minute to Win It." I get really competitive. I like to do something competitive away from track, and I like just hanging out with some of the girls and watching the game.
GS: Do you have any funny stories about the coaches?
AB: Way back in my freshman year, with Bianca, Coach was making fun of us. So we made a snowball and threw it at him and we ran. We have a videotape of it.
UCLA Up Next for Gophers
Minnesota travels to Los Angeles, Calif., for the UCLA Legends Invitational this Friday and Saturday.
Warm-Up Lap: Q&A with Taylor Wiebke
Catch up with Gophers sophomore high jumper Taylor Wiebke after she earned Big Ten Field Athlete of the Week honors.
Gophers Earn Two Third-Place Finishes
Minnesota wrapped up competition at the Raleigh Relays with a pair of third-place finishes in the 800m and 4x800m relay on Saturday.