When Mia Brahe-Pedersen was last seen competing outdoors, she was setting state records and cutting her teeth on the international stage of track and field.
Last year was a tour de force for the Lake Oswego star sprinter, who as a sophomore broke the state record in the 100 meters (11.25 seconds) and tied the state mark in the 200 (22.95), standards established by Margaret Johnson-Bailes of Churchill in 1968.
She placed second in both events in the USATF U20 Championships at Hayward Field, earning a trip to the World U20 Championships in Colombia, where she finished fourth in the 200 and seventh in the 100.
Now the 5-foot-10 Brahe-Pedersen – coming off an outstanding winter season that included a national high school indoor record in the 200 (which since has been broken) – is ready to get back outside and push her limits.
“I'm definitely an outside runner,” she said. “Obviously, the Oregon weather, I'm kind of dreading some of the rain that I know we'll be having. But I know that I'm kind of just holding on for the end of the season, when it's going to be sunny and beautiful. It's that beautiful Oregon weather that I'm ready to see.”
Bathed in sunshine in the 6A championships at Hayward Field last year, Brahe-Pedersen thrilled the crowd by running a wind-aided 11.09 to win the 100. She matched that 11.09 in the USATF U20 meet, again aided by the wind.
“I'm hoping that I can show the world that I'm actually capable of doing that this season,” she said.
Brahe-Pedersen has high goals for 2023.
“I can't tell you specific times. I'm keeping those between me and my coach,” she said. “I'm hoping to get below 11 seconds in the 100, and then we're also hoping to get into the lower half of the 22s for the 200.”
The national high school records of 10.94 (Briana Williams, 2019) and 22.11 (Allyson Felix, 2003) are dangling in front of her. Her personal sprint coach, John Parks, who has taken over as Lake Oswego's head coach this season, said it's realistic that Brahe-Pedersen could threaten both records.
“I'd say she has an equal chance at both,” Parks said.
Parks said that the indoor season provided a strong indicator of Brahe-Pedersen's improvement from last year. She lowered her time in the 60 from 7.44 to 7.26, “and that was a 7.26 with a whole lot of imperfections,” according to Parks.
The coach said it's “not unreasonable to think that she can run a couple tenths faster” in the 100. Her strength endurance development, which allows her to maintain top speed longer, will be a key factor in lowering her time in the 200.
“I fully expect to see significant improvement,” Parks said. “We're excited for her to challenge new goals. Since September, she has increased her lifts in the weight room by over 125, 130 percent. But she's still weak in certain areas that we're identifying. I'm trying to bring her along slow. The weather kind of forces you to do that. What our weather forces you to do is peak late.”
In the last year, Brahe-Pedersen has become more of a student of sprinting.
“I'm a lot stronger and I'm a lot more aware of my body,” she said. “I'm kind of learning how everything works, and what I can do to get the most out of my strengths.”
Since May 2021, Brahe-Pedersen has been under the tutelage of Parks, widely known for coaching former McKay sprinter and 2012 Olympian Ryan Bailey. Parks has taken over at Lake Oswego for Vince Kinney, who stepped down in January to become as assistant coach at Lewis & Clark College, and he has added Bailey to the Lakers staff as a sprint coach.
Parks brings four decades of coaching experience. He assisted in college at Auburn, Portland State, Willamette and Oregon State and started the program at Alabama-Birmingham (1985-88). In high school, he was the head coach at Pelham, Ala. (1996-99), and McKay (1999-2006).
“Me now being the head coach at Lake Oswego allows me to really implement everything that goes into our training model and plan,” said Parks, who teaches at West Salem and lives in West Linn. “So it's very exciting to enter the outdoor season.
“I think it gives Mia a lot of confidence knowing the 40 years of elite coaching that I've done at different places. And then there's Ryan's experience and knowledge of all the details and the perspective of being on the track at the Olympics and World Championships.”
Brahe-Pedersen believes Parks will make an impact with the Lakers, who are coming off their first state championship.
“We have a really good coaching staff and a lot of really good girls,” Brahe-Pedersen said. “I'm really excited for what we can do. We're going to be showing up at some big meets, just hoping we can show out.”
In February, Brahe-Pedersen set the national high school indoor 200 record at the Don Kirby Elite Invitational in New Mexico by clocking 22.89, a mark that was broken last weekend by Adaejah Hodge (22.33) of Florida.
In the New Mexico meet, Brahe-Pedersen suffered a severely bruised heel running up the bank after finishing the 60, keeping her out of training for two weeks. She had about 10 days to prepare for the Nike Indoor Nationals last weekend in New York, where she won titles in the 60 (7.37) and 200 (23.35).
“I'm happy with my placements, obviously, but my times could've been better,” she said.
Parks was encouraged by her performance in New York.
“When you consider that she hadn't trained really hardly at all, it's exciting,” Parks said.
Brahe-Pedersen's first big test of the outdoor season will come April 7-8 at the prestigious Arcadia Invitational in California. She also will run in the Oregon Relays on April 21-22 and is likely to compete in the Nike/Jesuit Twilight Relays on April 28. The Summit Invitational on May 6, the week before district, also is a possibility.
After the high school season, she will focus on the USATF U20 Championships on July 6-9 and the USATF National Championships July 24-30, both at Hayward Field.
“April is going to be training and developmental time, and we'll look to race fast in May, June and July,” Parks said. “We're looking at her running some elite races in the summertime as a way to give her something to look forward to.”
Brahe-Pedersen won't have as much competition in the state this season after Roosevelt sprinter Lily Jones moved on to a college career at Oregon. Parks said that Brahe-Pedersen can use Hodge as a long-distance rival. He also has encouraged her to train with Oregon City senior Sophia Beckmon, an elite jumper who finished runner-up in the 200 at Nike Indoor Nationals.
“Mia does better when she has competition,” Parks said. “She's got a great ability to focus and reel in people. She won't have Lily, and that's one of the things I've tried to tell her, to get Sophia to come train once a week with her.
“The main thing that Mia has is that she's the most focused and driven athlete as any I've had. She's got an amazing work ethic to go with amazing natural talent. She wants to just see what she can do. And she loves it.”
Brahe-Pedersen is thrilled to be a part of the records chase.
“There are a lot of girls that are gunning for (the 100 record) that have just as much, if not more, potential than I do to achieve that,” she said. “I'm excited for anyone to break it. I think records being broken makes the whole sport more exciting. I'm expecting it to be broken, if not by myself, then by someone else. Maybe even the 200, as well, with Adaejah. But I'm not going to count myself out.”