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Brandon Rock

Just as water always seeks its own level, one would like to think talent always rises to the top. In the case of half-miler Brandon Rock, one can't help but think that without some lucky breaks he would have never had a chance to shine. Certainly, that's how the imposingly-built Nevadan feels.

At 6-4/175, Rock looked like a prospect in his prep days, but his best time of 1:56 for 800m didn't turn many heads. He signed on at California's Taft JC, where he improved to 1:52.30 in his first year. A year later, the promise seemed gone. He struggled to run a 2:08 and soon discovered he had a serious kidney infection. He went on medication, and his weight climbed 30 pounds.

As he told Track & Field News last year, "One day I felt like I was going to die, so I took myself off all the medications and left it up to God to see what He wanted to do with me." As it turned out, the young athlete had been prescribed too much medication in the first place. A doctor later told him his decision to stop taking the medicine saved his life; he might have been dead within a week otherwise.

Rock returned to running in 1993, hitting 1:55 after running in only three races as an unattached athlete. He enrolled at Nevada, and enjoyed an undefeated campaign until he got to nationals. He placed 8th at both NCAA and the USA Championships.

Unfortunately, the Nevada men's program was canceled at the end of the season, leaving Rock with a year of collegiate eligibility. This time around, he had a PR of 1:47.44, and that turned a lot of heads. He chose Arkansas, a decision that paid big dividends. In the 1995 season, he placed first in both national meets, rather than last.

He prepped for the World Championships by running the European circuit. In his first appearance ever outside the United States, he ran a PR 1:44.97 to win the London Grand Prix meet. Observers thought Rock didn't realize there was a rabbit in the race, as he outsprinted the hired hare to the 200 mark. The rabbit passed him and Rock dropped off the pace for a while, before storming back to claim the win and the big PR. He ran his first 1:44 seven weeks before he got around to running his first 1:45. Rock explains that inexperience wasn't a factor there. "They were going too slow; I wanted to run," he says. "I like to get out front and take control."

Rock ran what appeared to be a lackluster race in his first World Championships final, getting into good position but not having the strength to do much from there. He still ended up a respectable 5th and finished the season ranked No. 9 in the world.

In 1996, Rock plans to continue working on his degree at Arkansas, studying criminal justice/juvenile probation and psychology. Working with Razorback coaches John McDonnell and Steve Silvey, his track goals are set: "I want to shoot for the American Record. I think I can run 1:42.50. And mainly I just want to stay the No. 1 American."

"Anything is possible, you know," Rock emphasizes. "A lot of people didn't think I'd come this far, returning off a life-threatening illness like I did."

Career Stats

Born July 8, 1972 in Las Vegas, Nv

6-4/1.93m	175/79kg

Eldorado HS (Las Vegas) '91

Taft JC '91, Nevada '94, Arkansas '95


PR (outdoor):

800--1:44.97 '95

PRs (indoor):

400--47.50 '95

800--1:48.37 '95

Major Meets:

1994	8)NCAA

1994	8)USA

1995	4)NCAA Indoor

1995	1)NCAA

1995	1)USA

1995	5)World Championships

Major Relays:

1995	6)NCAA Indoor DMR [1]

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