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Cal High runner reflects on winning state for second straight year

Alyssa Brewer recognized by City Council after another 800-meter victory

Before the state track and field finals, San Ramon's Alyssa Brewer told herself it was just another race, another 800-meter run.

But it was hard for the then-junior to completely believe that, considering she'd won the state title for the same race the year before, making her the first California High School female track athlete to win state.

"One thing I kept telling myself was, 'just treat it like another race,'" recalled Brewer. "Don't get overwhelmed with the pressure, that 'you have to do it again, you did it once.'"

And she pulled it off, defending her state title with a time of 2:07.07.

Brewer is a life-long athlete. She started playing soccer at the age of 4, and still does during the track off-season.

Her track career, though, began in middle school, during which time she competed in a smattering of events, like the 200-meter, the 400-meter, relays and the long jump.

During her sophomore year, Brewer primarily ran the 400-meter, but at the Sacramento Meet of Champions, she tried out the 800-meter.

"I ran a really good time, a 2:09, that pulled me up with the state leaders," Brewer said. "And we thought, 'oh, well maybe (I'm) better at the 800!'"

She ran both the 400 and 800-meter races throughout the season, up until the North Coast Section, the meet before the state championships.

"And I actually qualified for the 400 and the 800," she recalled about her sophomore season. She ended up dropping the 400, though, to focus on the longer race and ended up achieving her PR (personal record) of 2:06.86.

So this year as a junior, she tailored her workouts to the 800-meter race. The 800-meter is two laps around the track, half a mile. It's twice as long as the 400, and requires different pacing strategies.

Her trainings, for example, would include sprinting a lap around the track, rather than just half a lap.

This year's competition -- the 99th annual California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) State Track and Field Championships -- was held on June 2-3 at Buchanan High School in Clovis, a city right outside Fresno. Brewer knew her competition beforehand, and their strategies.

"I knew coming in that Cathilyn McIntosh (Del Oro High) was going to be good competition, because based on her 400 times she was another good sprinter, she had good sprint speed at the end," Brewer said. "And I knew from previous races that her strategy was to stay behind at the beginning and then at the end really come on."

When competing in the 800, Brewer tracks herself. "The first 100, I'm just getting out hard, getting in the lead," she said. After that, she tries to hit her target times: 30 seconds at the 200 mark, 61 at the 400.

"That second straightaway," she said, "I really start picking it up -- it starts to feel good, I start almost kicking at that point."

And then at around the 1:50 mark, she really just sprints it in.

The strategy worked, as she won the race, beating Del Oro's McIntosh for the title by half a second.

"It's amazing to think that of all the people out there, that I would be fast enough," Brewer said.

Brewer was honored for her accomplishment at the San Ramon City Council meeting on Tuesday.

"(The 800-meter is) an extraordinarily tough race," said Mayor Bill Clarkson as he congratulated Brewer and her family.

Her athleticism was recognized nationally as well. She was named as the April athlete of the year by MaxPreps, a Marine-sponsored award which included a trip to Washington D.C. last week.

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