Where Are They Now ? Josh Brickell Of Peachtree Ridge HS

Josh Brickell was one of greatest distance runners in Georgia HS history, especially in Cross Country where he quaified for Foot Locker Nationals twice (2011/2012) We caught up with Josh this past week and he details the journey from HS to 'Where He is Now'

State titles and other honors:

Cross Country state titles in 2010, 2011, and 2012
1600m state title in 2011
3200m state title in 2011 and 2012
Track Team state title in 2011
2 Time Footlocker National team qualifier, 8th place at nationals
(2nd team All-American) in 2011
New Balance Nationals Outdoor Track All-American in 2012 (6th place in the 5K)  

At Foot Locker XC Nationals

Just before the gun at Foot Locker South

Where did you compete at in College and how did you fare there?

After graduating from Peachtree Ridge, I ran at Furman University in Greenville, South Carolina. During my 5 years at Furman, we qualified for NCAA cross country nationals 3 times, with our best finish being 13th place in 2015. In addition, we won the Southern Conference cross country championships all 5 years. When I came to Furman, it was the first recruiting class for a new coaching staff that had a vision of developing a distance running powerhouse. Every year, we expected to make the national meet in cross country, and to compete well once we got there. I was proud to be a part of building this program, and am glad to see their continued success since I have graduated. Furman was and is a great place for distance runners!  

Individually, I primarily ran the 5K and 10K, finishing with track PRs of 14:17 and 29:24 respectively. I also qualified for the outdoor track east regional meet 2 times in the 10K, with a best finish of 16th in 2017. In addition, I won the Southern Conference outdoor track 10K in 2014, and had numerous other podium finishes at conference championships.

Tell us about your journey from post graduation to where you are now?

At Furman, I majored in mathematical-economics and religion. I had classes in a lot of different departments in college, and had plenty of academic interests. It's great to be interested and enjoy a wide variety of coursework, but it did make it challenging to figure out what I wanted to do after college! I decided to pursue becoming an actuary, and since the summer of 2018, I've been living in Richmond, Virginia and working at Mercer Consulting as a health actuary.

You might be wondering, what's an actuary? Prior to my junior year in college, I was like most people, having no idea what an actuary is. At its core, the job of an actuary is about managing risk, helping assess the likelihood and severity of future events, and developing strategies to either prepare for or mitigate the effect these events might have on the financial security of a company.

Athletically, while I certainly wouldn't trade the opportunity to run collegiately, I will admit that both my body and mind were a little burnt out after my collegiate career was over. Running at the college level was both one of the most rewarding and challenging things I've ever done. I still have a desire to compete, and since college I've gotten the chance to fit in a few triathlons around my work schedule. More than that though, I still have the desire to pursue challenges that present a real possibility of failure, and to seek out adventures that will change and mold me into who I am called to be. Running was a primary vehicle for me to do all of this, and I've wrestled with what new pursuits in this vein might look like post-graduation.

Anyone you would like to thank on your journey?

There are so many people who have invested time and energy into me as it relates to my athletic career. I certainly can't thank them all, but here are a few who have made an exceptional impact on me during my high school and college careers.

First I'd like to thank my mom, dad, and baby sister. (but she's actually 22) From countless baseball and basketball games as a kid, to races all over the country in high school and college, and even a few middle school math tournaments (yes, I was that nerdy kid, and I still have the team polo to prove it. What did you guys expect, I'm an actuary?!) my parents never wanted to miss a chance to see me grow and compete; I've always known that however I may have performed, they were in my corner. And thanks to my sister Maddie, who every vacation wanted nothing more than to lead the family on 15 hour daily hikes, only to have to wait for me to finish my morning run
Secondly, I'd like to thank my coaches:

As a freshman, I remember racing at Westover where my coach, Ron Clanton (above), used to coach. I was amazed at the number of former athletes who came out to see him, and the amount of respect and admiration they had for Coach. After four years at Peachtree Ridge however, it didn't surprise me at all, as I both saw the impact he had on so many athletes and felt the effect he had on me. Whether it was at Westover, Peachtree Ridge, or now in Dublin, Coach Clanton has spent decades taking awkward, skinny high school boys and turning them into men of character. I don't think I could've had a better high school coach.

Coach Mark Coughlin was the wise sage who guided my training for many high school seasons, and I could certainly tell stories of his master training regimens and expert race tactics. I'd rather tell you that to me, Coach Mark exemplifies what it looks like to live a full life for others outside of a 9 to 5 job. Coaching cross country certainly wasn't his career, yet he chose to spend thousands of hours pouring into a group of high school kids. I'm thankful for the hundreds of runs we shared together, and the wisdom he imparted.

In college, Coach Chris Neal was my point coach for 5 years. Few coaches are invested in the success of their athletes as much as Coach Neal; he gets more excited than you do after a big day, and feels worse than you do when things go south. (trust me, I had plenty of the latter) I really struggled in my transition to college, and when the first year or so doesn't go so well, plenty of college coaches start to forget about you and pray for the day you transfer and open up a spot for another guy. I'm appreciative that Coach Neal didn't take this route, and instead continued to invest in me. His passion, work ethic, and loyalty are all traits I admire and hope to emulate.

Finally, I'd like to thank the many teammates I've had along the way. They became my best friends and the people I could always trust and count on. It was a lot of fun to toe the line time after time, running with and for the brothers you've trained with every day for months on end. And I've enjoyed the many friendships that have continued long past when our days as teammates had ended.

Josh Brickell