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Athlete of the Week: Willig ’16 burns up the track at Stanford

Ned Willig ’16 may be a newcomer to the men’s track and field team, but he is already making his presence known both on the squad and in the Ivy League. At the Stanford Invitational last weekend, Willig ran the 800-meter run in 1 minute, 50.20 seconds, tying Gbolahan Fatuga ’96 for the third-fastest time in school history. Willig’s time was also the second-fastest time recorded in the Ivy League this season. He continued to impress at Stanford by crossing the finish line of the 1500-meter run in 3:45.53, the best performance among all Ivy League runners this year and the eighth best in Brown’s history. For his impressive runs, Willig has been named The Herald’s Athlete of the Week.


Herald: How does it feel to start off the season so successfully?

Willig: As the first event of the spring track season, I’m very happy with how I started. It’s a good place moving forward. Starting on a good note is always helpful, especially in gaining some confidence. The mental aspect of track is a really big part.


You mentioned the mental aspect. What do you think about while you’re running?

Really, it’s more not thinking for me. After so much training, you get into the habit of just running without thinking and just staying relaxed.


What do you hope to achieve this season?

I’d like to qualify for nationals. To do that, I have to place at the regional meet in the top 10 or something.


What’s the best part about being on the track team?

Really, it’s just being in a group of people. The team is my closest group of friends.


So track and field is as much a team sport as any other sport?

Definitely. Everyone’s working to score points for the team. One of my favorite meets of the entire season is the Heptagonal Championships — which is basically the Ivy League Championships — and it’s fun because everyone is really focused on working together to get a good team score.


You’re also on the cross country team. How is training different for the two seasons?

Cross country is obviously more distance-oriented, so we take longer runs. Scientifically, we do a lot more aerobic exercises in cross country, while track involves some of those anaerobic exercises.


Why did you pick Brown?

The academic freedom really appealed to me, but also, when I visited the track team, I really liked the teammates. Running was going to be a big factor for my college choice, and Brown had a good team atmosphere. Coach (Tim) Springfield, too, seemed elite above (other collegiate coaches).


What are your favorite things to do here?

I guess whatever a college kid likes to do. I like hanging out with friends. And also learning — I study geology. I really enjoy learning about the natural processes of the earth and how all of them are interconnected, although I’m not sure yet what I want to do with it.


You live in Perkins. Do you gain an advantage by having to walk back and forth?

It can definitely be tough at 7 o’clock in the morning when you have to go and run. I do like living here, as it’s a close community where you can come back at night and just talk to super friendly people.



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