The route that East Tennessee State sixth-year senior distance runner Adam Bradtmueller has taken reflects most of his runs around the area — filled with ups and downs, far from a flat and easy road like his native Sarasota, Florida.
“Being here is so cool,” Bradtmueller said. “Coming in when I was a freshman, I was so excited because it was something completely new because I didn’t leave Florida and pretty much stayed in a little one-mile radius in my hometown.
“Every year is exciting because it’s different and I get to see teammates come and go. Josh Routh is the only teammate that’s been with me the entire time.”
Bradtmueller — a Van Wilder of sorts at ETSU with a possible seventh year pending approval — has been through a myriad of injuries from his first days on campus in the fall of 2016, but that hasn’t deterred him at all.
In fact, being through so much has been a motivating factor — and Bradtmueller has come back stronger than ever.
“Sometimes the lows make you appreciate the highs,” he said. “I really struggled to get going when I first got here. I had a good freshman year, but didn’t improve the way I thought I would.
“I’ve had some breakthroughs, some bad races and some injuries. In my senior year and my fifth year, I didn’t run a single track race and that really made me appreciate every moment.”
ETSU director of track and field George Watts can sympathize with Bradtmueller in a way, having gone through multiple injuries — including a career-ending one — during his college days at Tennessee.
“Adam does a lot of the little things that you need to do to keep yourself healthy,” Watts said. “My injury was career-ending, but thankfully Adam gets to continue running. He is focused, dedicated and enjoying the success he’s having.”
Bradtmueller’s indoor season was nothing short of fantastic. Along the way, he shattered a school record in the 3,000 meters that had been standing since 1990 at the Music City Challenge in Nashville. Bradtmueller’s time of 7:58.82 surpassed a mark held by Seamus Hynes (7:59.92).
In the race, Bradtmueller finished sixth — the first runner from a non-Power 5 program to cross the finish line — among the field of 29 competitors. He did it, too, in his nearly-patented way of smartly sitting and out-kicking the competition in the latter stages of the race.
“I knew exactly what the school record was when I got here,” Bradtmueller said. “The 3K is my favorite distance and it sucks we only get to do it indoors. I’m not a true miler or a true 5K guy, so it’s a good middle ground for me.
“When I crossed that finish line and saw 7:58, it was a dream come true. My teammates stormed the track and I was tired, but I had adrenaline going.”
The Southern Conference indoor meet was almost a microcosm of Bradtmueller’s career at ETSU — tripping, but getting back up and never giving in.
In the 3,000, he was with the lead pack but fell within the last 30 meters of the race and ended up second. The next day in the 5,000, he got some well-deserved revenge.
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