TCU Feature: Brenley Goertzen

Nov. 17, 2016

FORT WORTH, Texas -- Big 12 bronze medalist and 2016 NCAA Championships qualifier. These are a couple notches Brenley Goertzen has added to her belt during her sophomore cross country season at TCU. 

After only competing in three meets last year, Goertzen has emerged as one of the top distance runners in the conference in 2016. Getting to this point was not easy, though. Arriving to Fort Worth last year was a big adjustment for the Woodbury, Minn. native.

“Last season was really tough for me,” Goertzen explained. “I think coming in as a freshman, I didn’t really know what to expect. I came in injured, which was hard. I had hamstring issues from my senior year of track, and I didn't compete for six months.”

Goertzen was limited to just three races in 2015 as she got accustomed to the collegiate lifestyle and recovered from injury, but she was itching to be on the trail with the team. After competing throughout the indoor and outdoor track season and completing her freshman year in Purple and White, Goertzen flipped a switch over the offseason and set a spark in her outlook on racing.

“It's a lifestyle, and that's something Coach [Fazioli] has preached to me, and it's something that I've really bought into. You have to be committed in every part of your life. Otherwise, it's not going to work. That was something that changed for me. I realized that there are lots of parts of my life that have to change.”

Through the help of Coach Jennifer Fazioli, the two discovered that Goertzen was not like most distance runners.

“I was in contact with Coach [Fazioli] a lot this summer. We were building the right training plan for me, and we basically figured out that I am a runner that is much, much more based on intensity versus volume. I don't need the volume that a lot distance runners need. Everything I do just needs to be intense. Everything has to be race pace.”

And Goertzen’s races have been quite intense, to say the least. Goertzen finished the 6,000-meter race at the Big 12 Championships faster than 87 other athletes. Her time of 20:35.1 also put her at No. 4 on TCU’s all-time top five list.

Yet it’s not all about winning to her. Goertzen wants to see all athletes compete at their highest level, even if that means motivating other athletes during races.

“I have definitely tried to incorporate being super positive into my races. One thing I really like to do and what I've encouraged the other girls on the team to do is that I will actually talk to my competitors during the race. I'll be like, 'Come on. Let's go!'”

“Maggie Montoya at Big 12s went out really hard, and then she started to fade toward 4K, so I caught her around that point in the race, and I told her, 'Maggie, come on! Let's go! We've got this. We can finish this last 2K.'”

Goertzen’s positive attitude carried over in her next outing as she placed sixth overall (out of 144) at the NCAA South Central regional meet to become the first Horned Frog to earn a bid to the NCAA Championships since Agnes Kemboi in 2012.

"The moment never got too big for her," coach Fazioli said after the race. "She ran extremely well, and we had a strong feeling going in that she could do this."

With such a change in performance level throughout the last year, Goertzen often gets asked how she did it. Her answer is simple.

“A lot of people have asked me, 'What have you changed?' and I'm like, 'I have just bought into my training.' You have to be committed. Sometimes it is scary when you get a workout and you’re like, 'Oh my gosh. I literally have to run four miles at race pace.' It's tough, but I've been trusting that I can do it.”

Goertzen will be competing against a tough field at nationals on Saturday, Nov. 19, but one thing’s for certain: she will enjoy every second of it.

“I think my fitness level is just at that point. It's so high and in such a good place right now that racing feels good. I go up there, and I'm just like, 'This is so fun.' Getting to run against some really amazing girls is exciting.”



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