Bradley Rzewnicki became the first runner from Seaside High School to compete in the Pac-12 cross-country championships, held last Friday on a blustery day at Chambers Creek Park, south of Seattle, for the COVID-delayed championship event.
Rzewnicki was the individual state 4A cross-country champion in 2015, leading Seaside to the team title. Rzewnicki competed for Gonzaga University for three years.
After three years he decided it was time for a change. Though he enjoyed his team at Gonzaga, cold winters made for challenging training. After due consideration, he entered his name in the transfer portal and went looking for another university.
Several schools wanted Rzewnicki to join their squads, most notably the University of Nebraska, where he would be jumping from the icebox to the freezer, and the University of Arizona. He chose the warmth.
At Arizona, Rzewnicki encountered what he described as “an insane semester trying to navigate college athletics in this time (COVID)” and “my coaches are now gone,” with the head coach retiring and the assistant not returning.
The plus side, five-time Olympian Bernard Lagat stepped in as the interim coach. After an easy 5K time trial of 15 minutes and 35 seconds Rzewnicki said, “I haven’t been this excited about running in quite some time.”
Following the time trial, Rzewnicki placed third for Arizona at the Dave Murray Invitational, running the challenging 8K course in 25:48.7.
The Pac-12 had three teams ranked in the top nine nationally (Stanford, Washington, Colorado) so there was no doubt the race was going to be fast as teams fought for the conference title and the opportunity to compete in the National Championships on March 15 in Oklahoma.
Rzewnicki got out decently, yet could not hold a strong pace. He finished 66th in 26:06.
“I was disappointed with my race because I didn’t feel good from the gun,” he said after the race. “I have been battling some annoying, nagging injuries. But I am grateful for the opportunity to travel and race.”
Not one to give anything less than his all, Rzewnicki said after the race, “time to go back to training and get ready for track.”