NORMAN, Okla. -- A lot can happen in a year. Just ask Oklahoma distance runner Brandon Doughty, who has spent the past year growing into one of the most consistent and productive student-athletes on the Oklahoma track and field roster.
The 2013-14 season has been a special one for Doughty, who has spent his time running for both the cross country and track and field teams. It is obvious that the junior has been spending his time wisely.
Doughty finished ninth at the Big 12 Cross Country Championships. He was named to the All-Big 12 Cross Country team and then was honored as Academic All-Big 12. Doughty followed up a successful cross country season by setting a personal record and scoring in the 3,000-meter run at the Big 12 Indoor Championships. He also ran the anchor leg of OU’s Big 12 winner in the distance medley relay.
Heading into this weekend’s Big 12 Outdoor Championship, Doughty is continuing to earn notice in his second outdoor season. The West Virginia native has set personal bests in three different events in addition to recording the third best time in Oklahoma program history in the 3,000-meter steeplechase (8:52.38). That mark ranks first in the Big 12 this season by nearly five seconds heading into the conference meet. Doughty also ranks third in the 5,000 and is ninth in the 1,500.
“Brandon has been performing really well this year,” said distance coach Jason Dunn, who began coaching Doughty last summer. “I think all the way back to a good cross country season where he did really well at the Big 12 Championships. He carried that success into indoor track. He scored some good points for us there and was a big part of our DMR win. The success has carried all the way to the outdoor season and he has put up really good marks in multiple events.”
Doughty attributes his success to placing an emphasis on becoming consistent and growing as a runner.
“I have made a huge jump from last year, and I have really been enjoying it,” Doughty explained. “Distance running is all about consistency. I have been able to stay healthy the past couple of years, and all of the mileage we put in builds up and it is starting to pay off. We lost a lot of guys last year, so it feels really good to be able to step up.”
Dunn echoes the importance of Doughty’s growth as a runner over time.
“Our sport is a cumulative process, and I think we have done some good things with him this year in terms of training. He has responded well to it,” Dunn said. “The work that he put in previous years is starting to pay off. There are no quick solutions to success in our sport. It comes down to putting in work year after year and progressing. I think the work that he has put in the past couple of years and what work he has done so far this year is really starting to pay off for him.”
Part of Doughty’s development has involved taking on a leadership role for a very young team.
“I had to change my mindset from following all of the older guys to being leader,” Doughty said. “I am one of the older guys on the team now. I wanted to try and help some of the freshmen figure out what they are doing and what they are trying to accomplish here.
“It is weird because last year I was one of the youngest guys. We lost six of seven in cross country and now somehow I am one of the oldest guys this year. It is pretty cool seeing a totally new generation come in and being a part of two generations.”
Dunn points out that while the leadership may be new to Doughty, it is a role that fits him well.
“I think it was a new opportunity for him because there were so many upperclassmen on the team in previous years,” Dunn described. “I see him warming up to that role. Going into next year, he is a guy I definitely expect to be a strong leader in our group, in terms of where he finishes in the races as well as how he carries himself. He can then demand the same from his teammates on a daily basis.”
Simply put, Brandon Doughty is having an outstanding year, but, there is still time left to run this year. With the championship season still ahead, Doughty has set the bar high for himself and for the team.
“I think this is a great chance to win a Big 12 title as a team,” Doughty said. “This outdoor season we have events that we did not have indoors, like the javelin and steeplechase, and we were only down by 20 points. This season is definitely special.
“I would love to win the steeplechase at the Big 12 and make it to nationals in that event. I am most comfortable there and I feel like I can compete with a lot of guys. My plan is to just stay consistent and show up when it counts.”
While Doughty’s personal goals are ambitious, his coaches believe they are something he can accomplish.
“The plan is for him to do some big things,” Dunn said. “We are trying to work toward him being at his best as we enter postseason competition. He is on track, but it is important to take things one week at a time in our sport. He is definitely where I would like him to be now. A lot of where he ends this season will come down to how he manages things over the next four weeks. I have every reason to believe he is going to do a great job and I am excited to see what he can do.”
With two years of eligibility remaining in cross country and outdoor track, Coach Dunn believing that Doughty will continue to progress is a belief well placed. However, do not look too far ahead to see something special because the year is not over. Doughty is entered in the steeplechase, which goes off at 6:05 p.m. Sunday, then he will run in the 5,000-meter run at 9:05 p.m.
“I don’t want to look too far ahead. I am doing so well now and just want to stay in the present,” Doughty said. “I am really focusing on this season and putting OU on the map.”
By Andrew McCracken, OU Athletics Communications intern