Name: Airel Brown
Fall Sport: Cross Country
Position: No. 1 Runner
Years on Varsity: Two Years
Height & Weight: 5’5”/103 lbs.
Experience: 3 years (began running in eighth grade at Hamlet Middle School)
Favorite Subjects: Brown is the first Official Richmond County Athlete of the Week who attends Richmond County Early College. Just a sophomore, Brown carries a 4.4 GPA and is enrolled in several first-year college courses. She considers the Early College to be a “really cool” experience and she’s grateful for being able to attend.
In the classroom, Brown says she’s not a fan of math, but she really enjoys biology. She says that biology is a really resourceful class because, “it’s easy to remember because I can tie it to something I already know.”
RSHS Sports: Brown is a runner through and through, as she runs competitively for Richmond year-round. When she’s not running cross country in the fall, Brown participates in indoor track in the winter and track and field in the spring. She has been on all three teams during her freshman and sophomore years.
Sticking to distance with indoor track, Brown runs the mile, two-mile, 1,000 meter and 500 meter events. During the spring, she picks the pace up a little and participates in the mile, the 800 meter, and serves as the anchor on the 4×8 and 4×4 relays. Anchoring is a role she’s really proud of being able to do.
Extracurricular Activities: Despite running and training year-round, Brown manages to find time to participate in school activities at Early College. She’s a member of the Reach News Team, which is a student-run news program that delivers school and local news. It’s filmed at the Early College on Richmond Community College’s campus. Brown serves as the program’s sports anchor.
Brown also volunteers and participates with the “backpack pals” charity which is part of a Richmond County Schools initiative to provide nutritional meals and snacks to students whose primary food source is their cafeteria.
Hobbies: Of course, Brown thoroughly enjoys running and training in her spare time, as she’s always wanting to improve her times. But when she’s not running, she can be found buried in a book, enjoying the lost art of reading. While she enjoys reading in general, her particular interest is science fiction novels, especially the “I Am Number Four” series by Pittacus Lore.
But when the 15-year-old isn’t training or reading, she also enjoys eating, shopping and hanging out with friends.
High School/College Aspirations: As Brown still has roughly two and a half more years until she graduates, she hopes to continue to succeed academically at Early College, especially earning top marks in her college-level and high school classes.
For Brown, it’s never too early to start thinking about college. Her “dream goal” would be to attend North Carolina State University and also be a member of the Wolfpack’s cross country team. In regard to courses of studies, Brown has narrowed her search to two possible majors: psychology or communications.
“I think it would be really cool to be a sports anchor one day,” Brown said. “But I also love the study of psychology and the human brain. I want to know more about how the brain works. I like to “read” people, and psychology is a great career to help me get better at that.”
Mentor: Brown didn’t take long to recognize her personal mentor. She chose her father, Diabra Brown, who acts as an assistant coach with the Lady Raiders cross country team. A Raider runner himself who graduated in 1993, Diabra was a three-time regional champion and a state champion runner in the early 1990s.
Brown noted that her dad epitomizes what it’s like to be a good person, father and community member.
“My dad is such a smart guy,” Brown said. “He’s good at so many things and he’s so involved in the community, like being an assistant coach with the team. He’s a very admirable person and he’s an all-around great guy.
“I want to be like him in the way of always,” Brown continued. “He was the one who taught me manners and how to speak appropriately to people. It might seem like a little thing, but knowing when and when not to say something is a great skill to have.”
Player of the Week Stats: Brown is easily Richmond’s No. 1 runner for the Lady Raiders. This season, she’s averaging a 22-minute pace for the 3.1-mile race. Brown often times finishes each race in the top five overall, and has taken home several first-place finishes this season.
Early this fall, Brown took the No. 1 spot in meets at Jack Britt High School, Lumberton High School (twice) and Wingate. On Saturday, Brown finished third overall in the Smithfield-Salem High School Invitational.
What has your season been like so far? And how are you preparing for the SAC championship meet at Pinecrest High School on October 14?
“My season has been really good so far,” Brown noted. “I’m running really well. The conference championship is a big race that’s tough because there are so many hills on (Pinecrest’s) course. But my goal is to win the meet.
“I’m preparing by staying hydrated,” she added. “It’s important to drink water and cranberry juice, and to not over-hydrate. I’ve been working on my breathing techniques, too. And one of the more important things to remember is to remain positive while running. I like to think about ‘happy thoughts’ to stay motivated while I’m running.”
What’s your secret to only being a sophomore and being the Lady Raider’s top runner?
“It’s my desire to win that helps me be successful,” Brown said. “If there’s someone in front of me, all I can think about is getting around her. Or if someone is running close behind me, I want to distance myself.”
Coach’s Corner: Head coach Reggie Miller wasn’t shy in expressing his gratitude for having Brown on the team. As noted, Brown brings a winning element to the Lady Raiders, and Miller knows that there’s nowhere to go but up as Brown continues to improve.
“Airel is definitely someone who you can build a team around,” Miller said. “I always know what I’m going to get out of her from meet to meet. She can run so well, and runs like there’s no tomorrow.
“She never gives up, even when things get tough,” Miller added. “Airel is a leader on this team, and the other runners look up to her. But she’s also a leader in the classroom. Because she’s only a sophomore, there’s a lot of potential for her to get better and better.”
Look for Brown on the Richmond Observer’s flagship news program Live at 5, as she’ll be in studio for Wednesday’s edition.