It’s not often that I get excited about a 20.81 deuce. Typically not unless it’s run by an up and coming prep star. But perusing the results from this past weekend’s activity, I came across a 20.81 that I do find a bit exciting as Bryshon Nellum won the Brown Invitational 200 at 20.81 (0.6). That time, at this time of year, after all that Bryson has been through makes me think he may be ready to realize that potential that we all saw just a few years ago.
You may remember him. The star of the 2007 prep season. A double threat prep phenom who ran 20.43 & 45.38, as well as anchored a 3:09.89 relay. A young man who seemed certainly destined for stardom. But then the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry. And so it was for Bryshon.
He was first derailed as a freshman at USC when he suffered a pulled hamstring in his first ever collegiate race. An injury that effectively ended his ‘08 season. Then early in the morning of Halloween ‘08 he was shot while leaving a party near school – the victim of an apparent random shooting. The gun was aimed at his leg and the damage was severe enough to require surgery to his thigh and hamstring. The necessary recovery and rehab kept him out of the ‘09 season.
So following a superb senior year of high school, Nellum lost both the ‘08 & ‘09 seasons. His comeback began last year. A season that saw him break 46 seconds for 400 with a 45.94 as well as serving some relay duty for the Trojans. Not quite the 45.38 he ran as a prep, but enough to show that he was on the road to recovery.
How good is his early season 20.81? Well Nellum being a quarter miler let’s compare against other quarter milers. Most notably this past weekend Jeremy Wariner ran the deuce and won at the TCU Invitational. His winning time was 20.71 – his fastest ever season opener over the distance! This from a man with a 43.45 PR and both Olympic and World gold and silver to his credit.
Now I’m not ready to put Nellum on the podium in Daegu just yet. It’s only one race. But after what this young man has been through, if nothing else you have to cheer the effort. And if his dedication to the sport, combined with the competitive nature I saw in him as a prep, account for anything then I think this young man bears keeping an eye on. The 400 is one of those events that is in a state of flux and aside from Wariner, and perhaps Gonzalez in Jamaica, is pretty wide open.
So I’ll be keeping an eye on him through the college season and into June. I’ve got a feeling he could be a factor at the NCAA Championships and US Nationals. Then who knows after that. I think it will be fun to watch.