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2012-12-05 at 10:54

Exceptional star

By Leith Dunick,
91.5 CKPRWin Lunch with Danny and Laura for up to 20 people! Enter here to win on Thunder Bays Best Music 91.5 CKPRClick Here!

THUNDER BAY -- Kip Sigsworth knew his latest protégé was good.

But the Lakehead University coach had no idea just how good Dylan Brown could be.

At 19, the Newmarket, Ont., native exceeded all expectations Sigsworth had for his budding star, who helped vault the Thunderwolves into the national top 10 for the first time, finished fifth at the CIS championships and to top it off, captured a National Junior Cross Country Running Championship in November.

Brown was also named CIS rookie of the year, and for good measure took home LU’s athlete of the month in his sport, a sport that often gets overlooked at a school laden with basketball, wrestling, skiing and hockey success.

Heading into his first season at the Thunder Bay school, Brown said he wrote down his own expectations and goals as motivation.

It worked.

“I looked back and I did a lot more than I was supposed to do,” Brown said on Tuesday. “I was really happy with that.”

They were modest to say the least.

“I only wanted a top 20 at OUAs, so I could get to the CIS. Coming sixth at OUAs and getting named a first-team all-star, I was very happy with it. Then going to the CIS I was feeling a little risky and tried to hold onto the pack as long as I could and it worked out.”

For Brown, it’s the self-satisfaction of the sport that kept him at it, while his friends were doing other activities.

“Sure there’s down times, sure there’s up times, but I love the competition in it … and what you get from doing well and succeeding.”

Sigsworth didn’t expect he’d be this good, this fast, and called the CIS race a breakthrough for Brown.

“He just put himself in the lead pack and just hung in there until things broke up at eight kilometres. I think that gave him a ton of confidence heading into the national junior meet, which obviously he went in there thinking he could win and managed to do that,” Sigsworth said.

The veteran coach said it’s always a crapshoot when a new recruit lands at Lakehead. Sure they may have had plenty of high school success, but often it doesn’t translate to the university stage. With Brown, it was never in doubt from the moment he arrived.

“Some people it really works for them and they take off quickly. And some people it takes them a year or two to start to see those results,” Sigsworth said. “It generally happens, it’s just how quickly it happens.

“Dylan has, from Day 1, bought into everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s always asking me if he can do extra or is there anything he can be doing to be better, in terms of not just the workouts, but recovering, ice-bathing, physio, strength. It’s just a total attention to detail.”

The sky’s the limit, he added, pointing out that Brown ran the ninth fastest time yet on the well-traversed CIS national course, beating the times of four future Olympians along the way.

“Certainly (the Olympics) isn’t something that’s in the immediate future, but we’ve talked about this being a possibility down the line and if we continue to work and stay healthy (it could happen),” said Sigsworth, admitting he held Brown back in a lot of ways in 2012.

“There was a lot more we could have done.”

Brown has some more intermediate goals in mind, including a spot on Canada’s World University Games team.

“The top six at CIS get to go, so it’s definitely something I’m looking forward to,” he said.

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