The track and field coaches at Wausau West High School have a good problem on their hands. Every week they need to decide what events to put junior Brooke Jaworski into. It appears that whatever events they decide on seem to work out just fine. In her career so far, she has won races in distances ranging from 55 meters up to 5,000 meters in cross country. Beyond her successes in running, Brooke has also done well in the long jump and believes that she can add even more events to her already large repertoire of abilities. While she understands that she has unique talents and abilities, Brooke doesn't just hope and rely on talent to carry her to success. Rather, she strives to maximize her potential through a strong work ethic and positive mindset.
As we enter the 2018 outdoor season in Wisconsin, Brooke looks to continue to improve and build on her successes. Brooke is a two time state champion in both the 400 and 200, and was also a member of the WIAA state record 4x400 relay team in 2016. She finished 10th overall in cross country this past fall as a sophomore, following up a 12th place finish as a freshman. With her athleticism and speed, she has also excelled in the long jump, claiming a Wisconsin Valley Conference title in that event last season.
Brooke has started out 2018 on a strong note, having competed in the New Balance Nationals Indoor Meet. She took 8th overall in the 400 with a time of 54.84. This was the second consecutive year that Brooke has finished in the top 8 overall at the national level. You can take a look at Brooke's career racing profile here.
After talking to a few of the top athletes in the state, I consider it no coincidence that a common theme among them is their positive attitude and desire to make those around them better. By functioning as leaders that care about their teammates' successes, these athletes themselves get better through their unselfish approach to the sports. We thank Brooke for taking some time from her busy schedule to answer a few questions about herself.
Q: Congratulations on your successes thus far in both cross country and track and field. I always love to ask the question; what sports did you participate in before running, and at what point did running become a focus for you?
A: Thank you! Sports have always been a part of my life growing up. When I was in elementary and middle school I participated in WAYSA, a city soccer league. Following my years of WAYSA I continued to play soccer for a club team, Wausau United, for a few more years. In the winters all the way up to my freshman year, I also participated in basketball. Along with these sports, running has always been my point of focus. However, giving up basketball for winter track training sophomore year was a big sacrifice for me and I think at that point I was able to give track more focus.
Q: You have an interesting dynamic of being top 10 in the state in cross country, and a multiple event and multiple time state track champion in the shorter events the 200 and 400. Do you train more on the distance side or sprint side during track season, or is it a bit of a mixed bag?
A: Being able to switch gears from longer distance to sprinting has somehow always worked for me and has definitely given me the broad spectrum of different kinds of running. However, when in season I mainly focus on the matter at hand and train for the events I currently am doing at the time. Having some cross training during track or cross country is something that is really important for me to do. During cross country, my coaches don't abandon the fact that speed is key and implement some sprinting workouts or drills within our weekly plan. In track, some endurance is also essential for sprinting and my coaches also work in some middle distance workouts. So overall I always have a hint of both sprint and distance work no matter what season I'm in.
Q: I also see you dipping down to the 55 dash recently and also performing well in the long jump. Do you spend time practicing jumps, or do your coaches just put you in for points? With that, are there any events you can't do?
A: Through my track career, I have always enjoyed the long jump and I really started getting some technical and fundamental work starting my freshman year. In season I don't neglect my long jump work and just focus on sprints. My jumps coach always has a seperate plan for his jumpers and I have to make sure I'm getting my practice in. In long jump there is always some aspect of your jump that one must work and improve on and becoming better, which has come with a lot of repetition with my technique and being open to new methods. I would say that long jump is definitely one of my key events that I participate in regularly and hope to excel more in. As for other events, there are many that I have always wanted to try. For example, high jump or 300 hurdles. I think that, as a well rounded athlete, it's very important to have a wide range of abilities and I will eventually give them a try and hope it goes well!
Q: What sport (cc or track) do you most enjoy training/competing in and why?
A: This is a very hard question to answer (if I'm being honest) and I have many times asked myself the same question. If I had to choose one or the other I don't think I could! Both track and cross country have a special place in my heart and have impacted my life in so many ways. They also have their own unique feel to them that I love. For me cross country is so enjoyable for many reasons. I love the fall atmosphere of cross country and the early saturday mornings at some of my favorite courses. The longer distance training is also really fun and different since I train for track year round (besides during cross country season). Most of all, I absolutely love the team aspect of cross country and the family-like bonds you are able to make with your teammates. There simply is nothing like it. Track on the other hand is it's own world in my mind. I could go on and on about all the things I love about track, but to put it in a nutshell, I love the die-hard, competitive nature that track brings to the table. Both cross country and track are amazing and unique sports, and despite their differences, I enjoy them equally.
Q: Tell me about a few mentors in life and/or running that have really influenced or motivated you.
A: One of my biggest mentors in my life and track has definitely been my dad. In addition to being my coach in almost all of my sports, he has taught me so many things about being not only an exceptional athlete, but person as a whole. Because of his long history in athletics, he has given me advice on almost everything and he is definitely one of my best motivators. I don't think I would be able to do all the things I do without him and his guidance. Coming into my first year of high school track, a few of my fellow upperclassmen teammates also heavily influenced me. Alyssa Faucett and Kristina Geiger were amazing leaders to me and the rest of the team. Both of them were very supportive and motivating. They were the kinds of team mates that brought the intensity and focus to our team each and every meet and that has definitely rubbed off on me. I think some of my best memories of them were when Kristina and I busted out a really tough workout together in the rain and had a great time while working super hard. One of the best memories with both of them was after breaking the state record in the 4x4 and sharing a special moment as a team with our coach. I vividly remember how humble and proud they were of the effort we displayed together, rather than the gold medals around our necks.
Q: Are there any professional, collegiate or other high school athletes you admire and why so?
A: I have always looked up to many different athletes throughout my career but the one that I really admire the most is Steve Prefontaine. After watching his movie, "Prefontaine", I got taste of what a crazy athlete he was. His personality that he had was what I admired the most and what I strive for as well. Steve Prefontaine was a die-hard athlete who worked extremely hard for the abilities he had and he didn't take no for an answer. In my mind, I consider him one of the toughest athletes ever. As for high school athletes, I always admired one of my prior teammates, Matt Hass. Matt was a wheelchair athlete at West and we were on the same team for two years. In those two years, he showed me hard work on a different level and that being positive was so important. Matt was an exceptional athlete who really inspired me to work my hardest each and every day because not everyone has the ability to. But most of all Matt's perpetual positivity uplifted everyone he was around.
Q: With your past successes, what do the track goals look like this year for yourself and some of the relays you may be a part of again?
A: This year I hope, as always, to keep improving on my 400 meter time. My goal is to break my record from last year and eventually break into the high 52 second range. To do this, I will also have to improve my 200m time as well. I hope to break into the 23 second range this year. As for long jump, I would really like to see if I could hit a 19 foot jump. With my off and in season training, I think that all these things will be possible with time. For the 4x4, our team is looking very strong so far and our team has some depth this year in which we can switch out some girls if needed. Our goal is always to come out on top at the state meet and hopefully break the record along the way. As a team leader, I want to make track a positive experience for all of the girls on the team and make sure that the positivity and motivation is always there in order to be as successful as possible this season.
Q: How did training look over the winter?
A: Winter training went extremely well! I took a week off after cross country and have been putting a lot of work in the weight room and on the track since then. I also participated in many meets before the season started in preparation for the season, including New Balance Nationals Indoor. Overall, I am really excited to see what lays in the future and the outdoor season (If the snow melts!).
Q: Tell us about one of your most memorable workouts either in cross country or track.
A: One of my most memorable workouts was probably in track. I remember it was a really hot and sunny day and the sprint crew did an annual workout called "Finding the 400". It consisted of breaking down the 400 into two seperate 200s and hitting almost race-pace 200 splits with a break after the first 200. I can't remember much actually during the workout, but after each rep everyone lifted each other up and were cracking jokes to make the grueling workout less painful. Those workouts are always the most memorable for me.
Q: With your success coming early on, and thinking not everyone will have that immediate success necessarily, what advice would you give to any beginning runner?
A: One piece of advice that I would give to beginning runners is to love what you do. Running to most non-runners is torture, and it will be for you too if you don't enjoy it. Once you get to that point, it's essential to never ever give up on yourself and your goals because if you give up, you will let down yourself and the team. Finally, work as hard as you possibly can because you never know your limits until you hit them. It's amazing to see how far you can go when your mind tells you that you cannot go anymore. One quote that I live by is "When the going gets tough, the tough get going". It has helped me get through really rough barriers and gain confidence in doing so.
Q: Often runners are involved in other activities. What other sports/clubs are you involved with, and what hobbies do you enjoy outside of running?
A: Some other school activities I participate in are Student Council, Key Club, and NHS. Outside of school I like to hunt, fish, garden, volunteer, and do chalk art.
Q: What subject in school do you most enjoy?
A: In school, I really enjoy science, whether it be biology, chemistry, or agriscience.
Q: You can have one super power (beyond your current one of being very fast at a range of distances). What power would you choose?
A: If I could choose one superpower I would definitely choose to be able to fly. I think that would be so cool!