Ole Miss track running brings home gold in Pan Am Games
By Angel Ellis/Reporter
BIXBY, Oklahoma– Muscogee (Creek) Citizen Brandee Presley has carved a name for herself in the record books of her high school, the State of Oklahoma and at Ole Miss. She also managed to bring home two medals competing in the Pan Am U20 Championships held in July in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Presley is the reigning U.S. U20 champion in the 100-meter dash and Ole Miss school record holder. In Costa Rica, she took bronze in what turned out to be a highly contentious women’s 100-meter dash final.
“(Representing Team U.S.A.) was a great opportunity,” Presley said. “I’ve never been out of the country before, so it was great to see Costa Rica. And to be able to run against a world junior champion was a great experience. I want to try and learn from her and maybe try to beat her.”
The competition for the race was close. Presley finished third at 11.41 seconds, just narrowly behind defending world U20 champion Briana Williams of Jamaica (11.38) and Team U.S.A. teammate Thelma Davies (11.39).
After running the top prelim time, at a windy 11.24 (+4.9), the Bixby graduate found herself in a final that came down to three-hundredths of a second for all three medalists into a strong headwind of 1.4 meters per second.
She also managed to cement herself as the best women’s 100-meter runner in Ole Miss history with a gold medal representing the U.S. in Costa Rica.
Presley is now in the record books, breaking the school record at a wind-legal 11.19 (+2.0) to become the first Rebel ever to break 11.20 regardless of wind to win the U.S. junior title.
Her final time ranks her No. 6 on the world U20 list. She was the fastest at the U20 meet since Candace Hill’s meet record of 11.09 (+1.9) from 2016. It was also the fastest winning time at the U20 competition since Kaylin Whitney’s 11.10 (+0.9) from 2014.
Presley has been the anchor leg on two different school record-setting 4 x100 relay teams and has been named one of the most talented underclassmen 100-meter sprinters in the NCAA.
The anchor leg is typically given to the fastest or most experienced runner on the relay team. If the team is behind the anchor is tracked to make up the gap; if the team is ahead, they have to hold the lead.
“If you don’t know what you are doing it is tough,” Presley said. “I was mostly focused on coming back, I didn’t get the place I wanted in the 100, so I focused on just finished strong for the U.S.A.”
“I want to do it again, hopefully on the Olympic stage next year,” Presley said.
Running has been a big part of Presley’s life. At 19-years-old, it’s something she has been around since age four.
“I’ve been running for 15 years,” Presley said. “I didn’t know what I was getting myself into, and I was running for fun.”
“I started winning and really began to like it.”
But there was a shift for Presley.
“People began telling me I had a chance to make it, so I began to take it seriously and get into my training more at about middle school,” Presley said.
She moved to Bixby in her junior year. It was about that time she realized she wanted to run on the college level Presley said.
Being humble helped ground Presley as she took on the challenge of competing in Costa Rica as a girl from Oklahoma who has never left the country.
“I was thinking about everything I was training for, I was thinking about why I was running and focused on staying humble,” Presley said.
Presley says the leap from high school track to college was a major shift.
“College is more competition, more people who are more competitive than high school,” Presley said. “High school was a little easier when I got to college, I was freshman, and there was a lot of new things to learn.”
She’s now going into her sophomore year with some sage advice for first-year college students.
“Stay to true to yourself and know why you are doing what you are doing,” Presley said. “For athletes, you may not see the results you want right away, but have faith that your coaches are trying to better you for the long run.”
“Being an athlete in college is going to be about time management.”
She said there is a lot of sacrifice for the athlete.
“I have no social life. I sacrifice a lot.” Presley said. “But it is worth it, and I got what I wanted out of the season.”
“I’m learning, and I am hoping to evolve my sophomore season.”
Presley has also found good role models.
“I look up to Allyson Felix, but everybody looks up to her,” Presley said. “And my parents, they were college athletes, my brothers and sisters, because we pushed each other to do better.”
Presley and her siblings have just a bit than the traditional sibling rivalry going on. She has a sister who ran track, a brother who is committing to play college football at O.S.U., and another brother who has finished a freshmen football season with just under 1000 yards for his stats.
Presley said there were always people wanting to see us run against each other to see who was the fastest.
“There’s no need for that now …it’s me,” Presley said.
Presley has her sights on representing the United States at the 2020 Olympics.
“My long term goal is to go to the Olympic trials and make the team and place at the Olympics in my races,” Presley said.
According to Presley, there is an extra element as a Muscogee (Creek) Citizen to her competition.
“Muscogee (Creek) Nation has always had my back throughout this journey,” Presley said. “It’s been a part of me since I was born, I just want to go out do my best and represent that kids anywhere can dream big.”
She said that she hopes other young people see her and understand that she might not have felt good enough when she was younger but with the right mindset, the support of the tribe, and hard work they can achieve anything.
MCN Principal Chief James Floyd met with Presley and her family.
“I think that she is setting an incredible example with her achievement,” Chief Floyd said. “That’s what our kids need to see that it’s not impossible and they can do it too.”