Extra miles help Laws

Sep. 27, 2013 @ 11:30 AM

 Brandon Laws didn’t have to work too hard to bring home a county championship.

The Sevier County runner puts his work in during training, running twice a day. He’s done it ever since he first reached the state championships as a sophomore.

“It’s a built-in endurance boost,” Laws said. “I never felt this good my freshman year. Usually I’ll feel winded. I took it a little easy, but I felt great this whole time.”

Laws was in control from the start on Tuesday at Optimist Park. The senior is planning on running at Foot Locker Regionals this fall in Charlotte, N.C. for the first time. He was encouraged by former teammate and University of Tennessee freshman Patrick Hanlon to enter the elite race.

“I think it’d be a jewel in his crown because he’s never run it,” said Patrick’s dad, Sevier County co-coach Dan Hanlon. “We ran Jesse Owens last year, which is an elite race. We try to run an elite race every year but nothing compares to Foot Locker.”

Laws has become the elite runner in Sevier County, working his way up since his coaches saw Laws dedicate himself to cross country two years ago. Not only did Laws develop endurance back then, but he started to learn how to race. That, Hanlon said, can be just as important as running fast.

The coach said many runners go out of the starting blocks too fast and then fade as they get passed late. Having a good pace and a strong kick to the finish is something most runners learn over time. Zachary Weaver, who coaches the Bears along with Hanlon, said he saw that racing intelligence from Laws last week when the senior won the Johnson University Invitational.

“They learn to listen to their bodies and themselves,” Weaver said. “Him and a Bearden runner were neck-and-neck with about half a mile, three-quarters of a mile to go. He just hit another gear and instead of being a second in front of him, he finished 15 to 20 seconds in front of him.”

Weaver said Laws has become a “student of running.” The senior loves to watch big races on TV and follows the professional running world. He’s developed some of that race strategy, turning his focus to cross country.

The senior said he runs between 55 and 60 miles per week at this time of year. He’ll begin to taper some of those workouts the closer he gets to the regional championships in late October. Races, like Tuesday’s meet at Optimist Park, seem to get easier for him the closer he gets to regionals. He said the events at the start of the year are so much harder.

It all comes back to that training.

“I didn’t think I was going to run 17:19 today,” Laws said on Tuesday. “Those hills were killer. But I think, especially around here in Sevierville, I’ve logged good hills. We’re already prepared for it.”