Camp makes Brinkley confident
While at a cross country camp at East Stroudsburg University, Catasauqua's Tony Brinkley discovered an added sense of confidence that has already changed his high school career.
"I went here (camp) with three other teammates," recalled Brinkley. "We all did a lot of running, but I really felt good there. Before we started practicing, I felt better and better about myself. I knew I could have a good year because the camp helped me physically and mentally."
A few weeks later, Brinkley saw the results as he ran a school record 16.56 on a 3.1-mile course during the Moravian Academy Invitational August 31. Brinkley finished second among Class AA runners and fourth overall in the field of 182 harriers.
It was an early season accomplishment Brinkley thought he may reach later in the season. Before the meet, he and head coach Charlie Post spoke about the goals of breaking the 17-minute mark, finishing among the top five in the AA bracket, and crossing the finish line as one of the top 10 finisher overall in the race.
In addition, it was an extension of Brinkley's success when he captured the top spot in the mile at the Colonial League Track and Field Championships this spring.
"When I was headed to the finish an saw my time, I was surprised and really excited," said the senior. "I didn't think I could reach that time this early in the season. I ran the first mile around the five-minute mark, but I didn't want to freak out. I knew I had to keep pacing myself."
During the race, Brinkley believed he finally mastered the second mile, an obstacle for him the past few years.
"The second mile was always a problem for me," Brinkley said. "I would go out really fats in the first mile and then I would end up being slow in the second mile. In the race, I stayed on the shoulder of a Nazareth runner and didn't let him pass me."
Last year, Brinkley admittedly was disappointed when he finished with a time of 18.32 for the race. Post believed Brinkley conceivably cut the deficit this year, but he was well surprised by Brinkley's effort.
"A wise man once told me that it is not what happens to you in life, but how you react to it," Post said. "I passed the advice along to Tony, and he has responded. To do what he did was remarkable. You expect someone to knock off a good portion from their time, but he had over 90 seconds. He looked so comfortable out there, like he was just going out for a run and not competing.
"It is a real tribute to him because of how he has worked and the depth of the competition that he has reached. This season, he has taken a completely different approach and is much more confident out there."
The relationship between the two developed when Brinkley was The relationship between the two developed when Brinkley was a student of Post's high school freshman English class. At the time, Brinkley was playing football, but he wasn't getting much playing time.
"I ran track in middle school and though about cross country," said Brinkley. "Mr. Post spoke to me about the team and we continued to talk about it. I thought about it more and more and thought I should give it a try."
His recent success coupled with the previous year's accolades has attracted a number of schools recruiting him. Brinkley has aspirations of being a elementary school teacher and has explored inquires from East Stroudsburg, Indiana University of Pennsylvania, and Bloomsburg among other state universities. He has also received interest from New Jersey-based Rider University.
However, Brinkley would prefer to continue his running and begin his college education close to home.
"I have to wait and see," he said. "I'd like to stay close to home so my mom, dad, brother, sister and grandmother can come and see me. They have been very supportive. But I know I still have some marks to hit at Catty."
He should be hitting some new marks with plenty of confidence.