They may appreciate each other’s skill and talent. They may be friends off the track, but make no mistake: Mia Brahe-Pedersen and Autumn Wilson will each have a laser focus on reaching the finish line first when they match up in the 100m and 200m dashes, as anticipated, at the 2022 Nike Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field at the University of Oregon, June 16-19.
Brahe-Pedersen and Wilson are two of the outstanding athletes who have made early commitments or registered for the meet, which include other stellar sprinters, but also athletes and teams across all events. The “Early Bird” registration deadline is May 1 to get a discounted entry fee. The regular registration continues through June 8 (backpack guarantee date May 29).
NON will mark the third chapter in this “friendly rivalry” that has played out this year. At Nike Indoor Nationals, Wilson (St. Savio Dominic Catholic, TX, senior) dashed to victory in the 60m final in 7.32, with Brahe-Pedersen taking 5th (7.53). Then in the 200m final, though Wilson had the fastest seed time coming in, Brahe-Pedersen (Lake Oswego, OR, soph) exploded to a massive indoor PR 23.44 (Wilson 2nd 23.53) that was a US#1 and a huge breakthrough in more ways than one.
“Crossing the finish line in first place at the end of the 200m in New York was an absolute game changer for me,” says Brahe-Pedersen. “The feeling was unlike anything I have ever felt at the end of any race, it was like a new era of my track career had just begun. I started to believe that I could really establish myself in the world of track and field, because it seemed as though all of my dreams that I had as a middle school athlete just starting out, were coming true or at least had a chance of doing so.”
“My immediate thought was to question if I had really just done that,” she added. “But my coach, Hashim Hall, quickly brought to my attention that this is what I had been training for all winter, and that all I had needed was some competition like Autumn Wilson to bring out the best in me.”
A month later at the Arcadia Invite, Wilson again prevailed in their first matchup of the day – this time at 100m with an 11.49 (to 11.59). Then a few hours later, the senior was able to complete the dash double with a 23.68 to 23.78 triumph.
“I feel so amazing,” Wilson said minutes after those races. “That was my goal coming into the meet, trying to win both the 100 and 200, so it feels really good getting that.”
“Me and Mia are good friends now, but I'm very competitive and I don't like losing,” she added, “so I was definitely trying to get her in that 200.”
“Losing is never necessarily fun, but there is always a lot you can learn from it,” said Brahe-Pedersen of her Arcadia experience. “As a younger athlete, there is especially a lot I can learn from my competitors like Autumn, who have more experience. That is what's so special about competing at these big meets, win or lose you can still learn from the fantastic athletes around you.”
Two weeks after Arcadia, Brahe-Pedersen was presented with another opportunity to shine on the big stage at the Oregon Relays. Although Wilson was back home in Texas competing in her TAPPS district meet, the sophomore was plenty motivated by a chance to race strong competition at Hayward about a month before the state championships at the same venue.
It was a weekend Brahe-Pedersen will probably never forget. She started out Friday with a PR and US#2 23.23 in the 200m, a mark which when she saw it on the scoreboard just past the finish, inspired a priceless, visceral reaction of shock and delight that was captured on the RunnerSpace.com live webcast. She would rip a US#2 11.34 100m the next day, as well as help her Lake Oswego squad win the 4x100m with a dramatic come-from-behind anchor.
“I was not expecting to reach those times so early on in my season. But I did it in that venue, in front of that amazing crowd, and it all just felt so perfect,” she said this week. “It meant so much to me to be provided with that opportunity, so the fact that I was able to make myself and everyone who has supported me proud with my performance, just felt all that much more amazing. Going into the meet I wasn't quite sure what to expect, so my reactions were purely because I was just in shock and overwhelmed (in a good way) by what had just happened.”
Wilson definitely took notice of her rival’s performances, both of which surpassed her on the wind-legal U.S. list for the season, and had no problem finding some motivation in it.
“Seeing Mia have such an amazing Oregon Relays most definitely gave me motivation to keep training hard. I am extremely happy for her because she is doing some pretty incredible things as a sophomore in high school. Although I love Mia, I am of course looking to take the title in any events I choose to compete in.”
Wilson has been training hard since Arcadia, looking to defend her TAPPS state titles and prepare for the biggest competitions in June.
“Leading up to Texas Relays and Arcadia my coaches had me do a lot of short sprint workouts, working mostly on pushing in the first 30 meters of my race,” she said. “Since Arcadia, my coaches have started to mix in more long sprint workouts to work on my speed endurance in order to have a strong finish in my 200. I have been really happy and excited about the work I have been doing, and I am aiming to lower the records I have set at the TAPPS state meet. I look forward to finishing up my school season, and setting my sights on Brooks, Nike Nationals, and the U20 championships!”
Similarly, Brahe-Pedersen has been working hard in training on refining her game, especially during those middle two weeks of this month.
“I came to the realization that there were aspects of both my races that I could definitely work on in the weeks between Arcadia and the Oregon Relays in order to put on a better performance, so that's what I did,” she said. “I messed around with my block starts, tweaking some little things that are definitely still a work in progress, and I focused on trying to relax more in order to prevent cramping up at the end of my 200m like I did at Arcadia. Mistakes were made, but you can choose to let them defeat you, or you can grow from them. I grew from them, and that was reflected in my performance this last weekend at the Oregon Relays.”
While competing at Hayward Field will be familiar (while still exciting) for Brahe-Pedersen, it will mark a first for Wilson at a venue she hopes will be a big part of her competitive future.
I am extremely excited to have the opportunity to run at Hayward Field,” she said “From a young age I have watched numerous collegiate and professional athletes compete at Hayward, and it has always been my dream to be able to compete there, even more so now that they have made so many improvements. I can't wait to feel some of that Hayward magic!”
To come full circle on these fantastic sprinters and their friendly rivalry, you have to go back to that second afternoon at NIN.
“I've only been doing track since I was 12, but Autumn's name is one that I have known since the very beginning,” said Brahe-Pedersen. “My first real interactions with her included her helping me up and congratulating me after my 200m win in New York, and her giving (her bouquet of) flowers to my close friend (Roosevelt HS senior) Lily (Jones) after the 60m (where she had false-started) to try and raise her spirits. Those two things made it especially easy to develop such a friendly relationship, and really solidified my respect for her.”
What inspired Wilson’s acts of kindness at NIN? She explained that it’s her faith in God.
“Although we are all track athletes and competitors, that is not our identity; we are human beings first,” she said. “When my ability to run is gone, what am I left with? I try my best to treat everyone as I know I would like to be treated, and as Jesus would treat His beloved children.”
“To me, being humble in both victory and defeat is important because we are all out there on that track giving it our very best,” she added. “Every race that I run is a gift from God, and I simply want to give back to Him through my actions on and off the track.”
There’s no question that Brahe-Pedersen looks forward to Wilson and the rest of the great sprint fields descending on her home state for NON in June.
“I think it is safe to say that Autumn and I have developed a friendship over these past couple months, so it is always nice to see her at meets and reconnect,” she said. “I think we both have a lot of respect for each other, and like to see the other succeed, which I believe to be a really key component to our “friendly rivalry.’”
“I have always looked up to her, and am still striving to be as accomplished as her, so it is truly amazing to get to compete and develop a friendship with her now. Autumn is also just as amazing of a person off the track as she is on the track; truly she is just such a class act.”
Photo Credits (top to bottom) 1. Wilson edges Brahe-Pedersen at Arcadia, Ken Martinez photo for RunnerSpace.com (Gallery); 2. Brahe-Pedersen gets a hug after her NIN 200m win, Elijah A'gurs photo for RunnerSpace.com (Gallery); 3. Wilson wins the NIN 60m, Elijah A'gurs photo for RunnerSpace.com (Gallery); 4. Brahe-Pedersen captures the Oregon Relays 200m, Becky Holbrook photo for RunnerSpace.com (Gallery); 5. Autumn Wilson dashes to the 100m victory at the NSAF USA Meet of Champions at Myrtle Beach, Joel Beachum photo for NSAF (Gallery).