Last year, Lake Oswego's Mia Brahe-Pedersen arrived on the Oregon high school track scene in a blinding flash.
She not only set state freshman records in the 100 and 200 meters, she broke 6A records and won state titles in both events. Her times of 11.67 and 23.48 seconds put her at No. 2 on both state all-time lists.
She created a buzz in the state. And now, as she enters her sophomore season coming off a 200 title in the Nike Indoor Nationals this month in New York, expectations for Brahe-Pedersen are soaring.
“There's definitely some more pressure,” she said. “The maturity I've gained in the past year is causing me to deal with that a lot better. If I had the same amount of pressure last year, it probably would have crushed that little freshman Mia.
“I've definitely learned to manage that a bit better. And I think it's going to pay to my benefit.”
Since last year, Brahe-Pedersen has grown a half-inch to 5-foot-9 and added strength. But she believes it's her mental development that has her prepared for what lies ahead.
“I really worked on my confidence and maturity as an athlete to make sure I can absorb what is all happening, because all the success is coming really quickly,” she said.
Brahe-Pedersen has her own high expectations for the season. She has fixed her sights on the state records of 11.30 and 22.95, both set by Churchill's Margaret Johnson-Bailes in 1968.
In July – six weeks after the season-ending 6A meet – she improved her personal bests in both events. She ran 11.57 to place fourth in the 100 in The Outdoor Nationals at Hayward Field. And she ran 23.39 to win the 200 in the West Coast AAU Junior Olympics in Las Vegas, where she also won the 100.
“Ideally, I want to break the Oregon 100-meter record,” Brahe-Pedersen said. “That would just be ideal. I don't know if it's in the picture or not because I haven't run a 100-meter yet this year. I'm hoping to eventually break 23 in the 200, or maybe get into the low 23s. We'll see.”
She got a big boost with her performance at Nike Indoor Nationals on March 12. She clocked 23.44 to beat senior Autumn Wilson (23.53), a Georgia commit who is the reigning Texas 6A champion in the 100 and 200.
“It was kind of a shock,” Brahe-Pedersen said. “I imagined it possibly happening, just as a dream. And then it actually happened, and I was just in absolute awe of it. I looked up at the scoreboard and I was staring at my time and my placement, and I was like, 'Did that really just happen?' It was super cool.”
Brahe-Pedersen dominates with a stride length that is longer than most elite sprinters.
“It's really helpful, but that also means my turnover is a bit slower,” she said. “And it's harder for me to get out of the blocks as quickly because I have more mass to move. But the stride length kind of equals that out.”
After a six-week high school season last year, Brahe-Pedersen is excited about what she can do with a 12-week season this year. By the middle of the season, she said, she is hoping to be dialed in and posting good times.
And unlike last season, which culminated with a 6A meet at Oregon City's Pioneer Memorial Stadium, this season the state championships will return to Hayward Field. Brahe-Pedersen got a chance to run in the reconstructed stadium at The Outdoor Nationals last summer and said it was an “amazing venue.”
“It's a fast track, definitely,” she said. “Running that, it's almost like a home track.
“I feel like it was built just in time for me and all of my close track friends to actually come into high school. The fact that we get to run on that track this season, and we didn't get to last year, the feeling just brings so much adrenaline. I think it'll bring our game up a lot.”
Last year, Brahe-Pedersen also ran on two school-record and state-champion relay teams.
She combined with Chloe Collier, Josie Donelson and Lauren DeGroot in the 4x100 (47.35) and with Julia Sieber, Riley Ha and Donelson in the 4x400 (3:54.15). Sophomores Donelson and Ha and seniors DeGroot and Sieber are back, but junior Collier has not returned.
With their prowess in the sprints, and the addition of the Peters sisters – junior Kate, the 6A cross country champion, and freshman Ana, the Three Rivers League cross country runner-up – the Lakers expect to make a run at their first state championship.
“This year, we kind of have the distances on lockdown, and hopefully we have the sprints under control,” Brahe-Pedersen said, “which would add up to be about the perfect amount of points for a state title. We have a super-talented team. I'm really excited to see what we can do.”