Unexpectedly walking on to the running team

Sports Staff Writer
Friday, February 25, 2011


Joel Anifowose ’14 ran on his high school track and field team, but he never envisioned himself competing for Brown. When applying, he said he focused instead on the prestigious, academic nature of the University. 

“I had zero idea. … I never thought about sending information to schools,” he said. “I never really thought about competing D-1.” 

Anifowose isn’t the only walk-on who had pictured himself spending more time in the library than on the track.

Head Coach Michelle Eisenreich said all of the team’s walk-ons have the potential to become valuable contributors to the program. 

“We make sure that the people we walk on have a chance to be competitive,” Eisenreich said. “We’ve had some really good walk-ons, like Lauren Pischel (’11). She made regionals in the 10K and has been a foundation of our cross country team.”

Like Anifowose, Audrey Davis ’14 had run in high school but came to Brown without athletic aspirations. 

“I would still run on my own here,” Davis said. “But it wasn’t the same. I wanted to be on a team.” 

“It’s easier having someone tell you the workouts and what to run,” she added. “I feel more accomplished when I’ve done a workout instead of going out for a run on my own.” 

Anifowose saw joining the team as a second chance. “I just realized that I didn’t do as good as I wanted in high school, so I wanted a second redemption to get better,” Anifowose said. “I still did not know if I was going to be on the team during the summer.” 

Arjun Pande ’14 — who made it to the Pennsylvania state meet in high school — also had not planned to run at Brown when he matriculated. But his high school coach reached out to the Brown coaching staff, and Pande reconsidered his decision. 

“I realized that things — like sports in general — there’s only a short window of opportunity in which I can live that dream,” he said. “I didn’t want to go through and regret not participating in something.” 

He eventually decided to join the team, and the grueling schedule began. Practices were intense and lasted several hours a day, often six days a week. But the work paid off when Pande got the opportunity to run at several indoor track meets, including the Alden Invitational on Dec. 4, where he ran the 55-meter hurdles in a time of 8.60 seconds.  

“My outdoor goal is to make it to Heps,” Pande said, referring to the Ivy League Heptagonal Championships. “I love hurdling and I love the thrill of the race. … It’s something I want to do for as long as I can and that’s why I want to do it for four years here at Brown.” 

Anifowose said he finds the workouts at Brown not only challenging but also instructive because the coaches help him perfect his technique. He has already contributed to the team as Brown’s top finisher in the 60-meter dash at the Harvard Challenge Jan. 28. 

Anifowose came to Brown hoping to be a top finisher in class, not on the track. But now, he is working just as hard to reach a new goal.  

“It’s important that I do everything the coach tells me,” Anifowose said. “For outdoor, it’s just training. I’m trying to break 11 (seconds) in the 100 (meter dash) and get low 22.3 in the 200.” 


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