Thursday, February 10, 2011

Brueggen going for gold

By Nick Bravos
Cardinal Staff

Senior and All-American track and field thrower Andrew Brueggen has his sights set high this year, looking to be a national champion — and he is already off to a successful start.

He already qualified for the indoor national track and field tournament after the first meet of this season. He finished fourth in the tournament last March, where he earned the All-American title tossing the weight throw. Brueggen also hopes to improve from last year’s thirteenth place outdoor national performance in the hammer and to finally become an All-American in that event as well.

Brueggen didn’t always have throwing on his mind when he first attended University of Wisconsin – La Crosse. He played Lacrosse and tuba in the marching band, but was eventually persuaded to try track and field by his best friend.

“If you were to have told me when I was a freshman that I was going to be a fourth-place All-American in the weight throw — or for that matter, that I would be good at anything that had to do with track — I would have thought you were crazy,” Brueggen said.

He felt his calling change when he enrolled in St. Thomas’ seminary program in Spring 2009. It was at St. Thomas that Brueggen made his first appearance at outdoor nationals and was one placement away from All-American status.

Things then changed again for Brueggen after he met his now-fiancée after only one month at St. Thomas. The next semester he transferred to Saint Mary’s University to be a part of the youth ministry program along with his track and field pursuits.

After last year’s outdoor performance, Brueggen implemented a new summer workout plan with his training coach, Phil Whitesitt. They “decided that although weighing 250 pounds was good for the weight throw, I sacrificed a lot of speed that was needed while throwing the hammer,” Brueggen said.

After a summer of eating healthier and working out five days a week, Brueggen lost 25 pounds. His coach had him running hills and British circuits.

“Now I am faster and stronger than ever, and I feel great. All I could think about all summer and even now was that I have a chance to be the national champion next year, and I wasn't going to let anyone outwork me,” Brueggen said.

In addition to a rigorous summer workout plan, Brueggen added a visualization side of his training. He listens to hypnotist Frederick Winters’ sports improvement track and meets with coach Whitesitt for visualization sessions.

“Believe it or not,” Brueggen says, “throwing is 99.9 percent mental and only 0.1 percent spinning in circles. Throwing the weight/hammer is different than any other sport because it lasts only for around 2 seconds.”

After having transferred to a handful of schools in the past four years, Brueggen is glad to finally call SMU his home.

“I love the atmosphere here but most importantly I love my coaches and my teammates. Without them and their support, I wouldn't be where I am today. I can say it has been the best two years of my life,” said Brueggen.

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