Princeton’s Tora Harris and Navy’s Leo Williams were both NCAA champions, cleared the high jump bar at at least 7-6, succeeded internationally and won eight Heps high jump titles. Who is next on the list when it comes to Heps high jump championships? That would be Brown graduate Ray Bobrownicki, who won six titles overall (three indoor and three outdoor) between 2003 and 2006. He recently decided to participate in the fastest five questions in track & field. Here’s what he had to say:
Q: Six Heps high jump championships. Only Tora Harris and Leo Williams have more. Did you think you’d have that kind of success when you enrolled at Brown in 2002?
A: I don’t think I had any clue what I was getting into when I first enrolled in 2002. As Tora’s graduation had left the field wide open, I thought I might have a chance to be successful, but this could have been more naiveté or wishful thinking on my part than anything else. Looking at it now, I’m really appreciative of the way that it all unfolded, because a few of those Heps were nail-bitingly close, coming down to the final jump. Fortunately, I had more good bounces than bad and I had a lot of fun along the way.
Q: When you approached Heps Championships, what competitors did you keep an eye on?
A: There were a number of Ivy jumpers that I had the pleasure of competing against for three or four years like David Pell of Cornell, Brian McCarthy of Dartmouth, and Mike Weishuhn of Princeton; all of whom I greatly respected. The thing I quickly learned about Heps though, is that it never unfolds the way that you expect and guys can come out of nowhere to produce huge performances, like Ryan Schmidt did at Dartmouth in 2003 at my first Indoor Heps. Since that initial Heps, my focus was always more on preparing myself to compete at my peak, rather than assessing the strengths and weaknesses of the other jumpers. Because I never knew where the competition was going to come from, I found that working on the areas I could control to be a much better approach.
Q: Do you have a favorite Heps moment?
A: There are several moments that really stick out for me, but two especially so. The first is the 2003 Cross Country Heps when Brown captured its first Heps Championship of any kind. I think that victory meant a lot to not only the cross country guys, but also the entire program and all of the alumni. It was an exciting event and I’m glad that I was there to witness it. The other moment was the 2003 Outdoor Heps at Yale. At that particular Heps, men and women Brown jumpers won five out of the eight jumping events, while also grabbing a third-place finish. It was the best jumps performance Brown had during my time in Providence and I was very excited for our seniors and coach, Anne Rothenberg.
Q: You competed for Edinburgh University after your Brown career. Can you describe the differences in college athletics between the U.S. and the U.K.?
A: This really is a tough one, as I could talk forever about the differences between collegiate athletics in these two countries. The best part about the U.K. for me is that you can always compete as long as you’re enrolled as a student at a university, whereas the NCAA has very strict rules regarding your number of years of eligibility. On the whole, however, the NCAA is far more competitive and better funded than the U.K. system. In the end, there are pros and cons for both systems and I have enjoyed my time in each.
Q: What have you been up to since graduation? What are your plans for the future?
A: Well, I was in Australia for two years following graduation where I worked for the Legal Profession Admission Board, which is a part of the Attorney General’s Department of New South Wales. I also spent some time as a basketball referee in Sydney as well, which was fun. Since then I’ve been in Scotland pursuing a Masters degree in Performance Psychology. I’m due to finish the degree in August, but I have yet to make any plans for beyond that, so I guess only time will tell what the future holds.