Athlete of the week: Willig ’16 enters Brown, Ivy record books in 1,000 and 4×400

Junior breaks own 1000-meter record, Bruno 4x400 record in first race of season

Senior Staff Writer
Friday, February 6, 2015

The track and field season is just underway, but Ned Willig ’16 has wasted no time breaking into the record books. In his first race of the season at the Boston University John Thomas Terrier Invitational last weekend, Willig outpaced his own program record of 2:22.35 in the 1,000 meters by nearly a second. His time earned him a spot on the all-time Ivy League Top 10 list.

He also led Bruno’s 4×400 relay team to a second place finish, smashing the Brown record by 2.69 seconds and earning another Top 10 Ivy mark in the process. For his speedy, record-breaking performances, Willig has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.

Herald: Have you always been a runner?

Willig: Yeah. I started running in middle school and have continued since.

What do you love about running?

I like the competition part. I like the winning aspect of it, I guess. I’ve always kind of had a talent out there more than anything else, so it’s always been an area where I put work in and get a good reward. My mom and dad both ran in college.

When did you realize that talent?

I guess high school, that’s when I started to really excel. I started competing in track in middle school. But I’ve always kind of been running, just being around track meets for a long time.

How do you train throughout the year?

Practice is six, seven days a week. My training’s been a little bit different from the typical runner. They’re usually out there running 60 to 70 — even up to 100 — miles a week. But because I’m a little bit more injury prone, I actually have to do more pool workouts. So I’m in the pool for three days a week, then running more about 20, 25 miles a week.

Why did you choose to run at Brown?

I just love Brown. When I came here, I liked the academic freedom, obviously. A big thing too was also the coach and the team. Coach Springfield has just been a really great person and a really influential person, as well. He’s been really crucial for my success … so I’m glad I chose Brown, looking back.

What’s special about being on the Brown track and field team?

The amount of support. Every time I’m on the track, there’s just a big corner of Brown people on one side. Then I have the captain (Peter Rhodes ’15) cheering, I always hear him going around. … It means a lot to have everyone out there everyday working hard. It motivates me; it motivates everyone else. I can’t say enough positive things about the team.

Any favorite memories from Brown track?

Last year with the 4×800 meter relay. It was our Heps Indoor Championships — the track championships for the Ivy League. We were in second the whole way for the first few lengths, and I was able to out-kick Columbia, which has been our big rival these past few years. It was really rewarding for the team to have that victory. And for myself because I had lost earlier that day to the same person, so it was kind of a comeback.

Where do you see running and Brown taking you in the future?

The biggest goal right now is just to stay healthy and stay on my feet and see how far that can take me through the spring. I’d like to make it to regionals and nationals. That’s the plan for this year. And then I’d like to have a really good cross country season this fall and have our team be better there. After that, we’ll see. Taking it one day at a time.

— This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

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  1. Dave Farley'64 says:

    Ned Willig is a beast! He broke the great Trinity Gray’s 1k Brown record last year. Stay healthy, Ned.

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