For many high school athletes, the choice of a college is driven by sports-related factors, such as coaches, facilities and potential success. For Brian Sames, the choice came down to academic factors, which led him to the University of St. Thomas, where he has become one of the top milers and middle distance runners in the area, as well as a key part of the cross country program.
“I narrowed my choices for college to Saint John’s and St. Thomas,” recalled Brian. “I was mainly looking at Division III schools because I felt they offered the right mix of academics and athletics. The biggest factor in my decision was academics. The engineering program at St. Thomas is a four-year program, while the comparable program at Saint John’s is three years, with a fourth year at the University of Minnesota. I preferred to stay in one school and chose to enroll at St. Thomas.”
When he arrived at UST, Brian planned to play basketball and then run track in the spring. After a year of competing in both sports, Brian decided to focus on running. “I felt track was my stronger sport,” he said. “I knew if I focused on one sport, I’d be more successful at it.”
The following fall, he added cross country to his repertoire and began running indoor track that winter as well. The concentration on running has enabled Brian to become one of the elite middle distance runners in Division III.
This winter, Brian has enjoyed a record-setting season on the indoor track circuit. He played an integral part in helping St. Thomas to its 25th consecutive MIAC championship (UST has won the indoor track title every year it has been contested). In a five-week span, he broke school records in the indoor mile (4:13.17), the 1,000-meter run (2:27.15) and the 800-meter run (1:525.70), as well as running a leg in the UST record-setting distance medley relay team (9:54.11).
His time in the 800 automatically qualified him for the NCAA Division III Meet. There, he placed seventh, earning All-American honors. Tommie relay team also automatically qualified, as their time is the fastest run thus far this year. The distance medley relay team also earned All-American distinction by placing sixth.
At the end of the indoor season, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association name Brian Central Region Men’s Indoor Track Athlete of the Year.
“Brian is no doubt one of the best middle distance runners in the history of our program and is also currently one of the very best at the national level,” stated UST cross country and distance coach Pete Wareham. “Brian has been one of the best in the conference for several years and each race he is kind of a ‘marked man.’ Sometimes favorites struggle in that role but Brian has done one of the very best jobs of dealing with the pressure of being a favorite. Some runners struggle to live up to past accomplishments, but Brian seems to use them to build confidence and positively contribute to future success.”
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