AZ Salute to Seniors | Brynna McQuillen

School: Vista Grande High School
Your name: Brynna McQuillen

Q: What does your training look like right now given the current situation?
A: Since school has been canceled, I've been forced to train alone and have been doing some scenic routes in order to give myself a bit of a distraction as I sadly do not have my rowdy teammates around. Thankfully, my dad has been riding his bike with me so I push a little harder and have some company. Coach has been sending out weekly workouts to keep us focused and to maintain everything that we have already gained thus far.

Q: What are you doing to stay busy other than run right now?
A: I absolutely love to cook, so I've been really focusing on my diet and seeing what helps me feel the best, as well as taking time for myself. I know a lot of athletes' identities tend to lie within their sport and I'm doing my best to find myself outside of being just a runner.

2019 AIA Cross Country State Meet - Division 3 - Brynna took 4th overall.

Q: What was your most memorable race/moment?
A: It's hard to pick, but one of the most memorable moments was last year, at the Mario Castro Invitational, where our girls 4x8 finally qualified for state. I remember the feeling of when I got the baton after the third leg, and I had no one to catch because my teammates had pushed hard enough that I had a lead to MAINTAIN for the first time. We finished in first with a 200m lead. It gave me so much fulfillment seeing my teammates' hard work finally pay off and watching them experience the feeling of winning a race for the first time. As for my own races, my most memorable one was at Chandler Rotary last year in the 3200m. I had told myself and my coach that I was going to break the school record, mind you, I had about 40 seconds to drop in order to do so, and coach was definitely skeptical. Lo and behold I crossed the line with an all-time PR of 11:08 and a new school record. Let's just say lots of tears were shed from not just me.

Q: What was the funniest thing that happened during your running career?
A: There are too many to have a favorite because my teammates are a bunch of rascals where every sentence is a joke, but my freshman year of track was a joke in itself. I was barely learning how many laps a 3200m was and for some reason, I decided to try it out. I was on lap 7 and I hit the 100m mark and I thought I was on my last lap and sprinted as hard as I could through the finish line when all I heard was screaming from my coach telling me to move. The moment I realized I had one more lap I began to bawl my eyes and practically walked the last lap. It was rough, and still to this day, my coaches call me the girl who can't count.

2019 Desert Solstice Cross Country Invite - 6th overall in a very competitive field.

Q: Who would you consider your biggest competition over your four years?
A: Ever since my school switched to Division 3, the competition has been much different with fewer girls competing, but I would say Zoey Delgado from Salpointe has been my biggest competition thus far. She definitely helped me push my limits this past cross country season.

Q: What was your greatest accomplishment?
A: It's always the little things that I'm most proud of, it's never winning a race or gaining a PR, but more so the times where I really felt I pushed past my limits. The Track State Championships last year was one of my proudest accomplishments, not because I was on the podium in every race, but because I came back from a rough first race in the 3200m after not running for an entire week prior. I found a fire inside of me the following day and finished runner up in the mile and later ran one of my favorite races. I was tired and my shin was in loads of pain from running an hour prior but I was still determined to run the 800m. As soon as the gun went off I was in last place for the majority of the race until the last 200m where apparently I decided I was a 100m sprinter. I passed 4th place by a millisecond and finished on the podium. When I look back at this race, it's a reminder that I can still have fun out on that track no matter the pressure or how large of a crowd.

Q: If you could do it all over again what would you change about your running career in high school?
A: I really don't have much I'd like to change as I wouldn't be where I'm at now if it wasn't for my past mistakes. Although if there is one thing I would change, it would be to never take any races for granted and to be proud of each one. There were countless times where I would PR and would still be unsatisfied. I wish I would've been more thankful for the opportunity rather than focusing on what could've been. Coach always says every race is a blessing and I wish I would've lived by that more.

2019 AIA Outdoor State Meet - Girls D3 1600 Finals - Brynna took 2nd.

Q: What were the most difficult obstacles you had to overcome?
A: I suffered from a stress fracture in my shin halfway through my junior track season and it forced me to take a week off before the state race. It definitely tested my heart and resilience but I am so thankful I was still able to compete at the state meet and finish where I did. Q: What will you miss the most? A: Easily, I will miss my teammates the most. Our team is a giant pack of goofballs who never know how to be serious but that's what makes every hard day a little more bearable. I'll miss all the inside jokes, all the games of buffalo tag, all the TikTok dance battles, and most especially the bond that each of us shares. Oh and can't forget my second mom, Coach Salcido. She's been my rock all through high school, as it has not been a steady path, but she's been there through every breakdown and every triumph and I couldn't thank her enough.

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