Feature Friday: Deptford's Brown Is Lighting Up The Track

There were so many eye-popping performances turned in during the State Relays last week. Trying to decide which athlete was the most impressive is a very difficult task, but a very strong case can be made that Lathan Brown of Deptford was the best of the best.

Brown was simply spectacular for Deptford as the senior became the first athlete in school history to run on four winning relays when he led the Spartans to a 56-46 victory over Rumson last Monday at the NJSIAA Group 2 Relays at the Bennett Center in Toms River. It's the second straight title for Deptford and its third overall (the Spartans also won in 2019). 

Brown, who ranks No. 4 in the state this season in the 400 with a 49.18,split 7.6 leading off the victorious shuttle hurdles (31.90), ran a 22.6 second leg on the winning 4x200 (1:33.26), ran 1:58 and change as the anchor on the first-place sprint medley (3:40.58), and capped off his amazing performance by dropping a 50 point anchor carry on the winning 4x400 squad (3:30.87).

Brown has built a sensational resume at Deptford with PR of 22.51 in the 200, 49.17 in the 400, 1:56.71 in the 800, and 55.22 in the 400 hurdles. He hasn't decided on a college yet. Whoever lands this versatile star will be getting an athlete with unlimited potential.        

NJ MileSplit recently caught up with Brown in between workouts to get his thoughts on his historic performance at the State Relays, how she got started in the sport, his goals for the remainder of this season and the spring and a whole lot more.

So lean back in your fancy recliner next to the fireplace or grab your favorite spot on the couch and enjoy our latest installment of Feature Friday as we shine the spotlight on Lathan Brown of Deptford,  one of the biggest stars in the state.

NJM:  First off, congrats on your remarkable quad at the state relays. What are your thoughts on becoming the first athlete in school history to run on four winning relays? What does that mean to you, Lathan?

When I was first told that I was the first athlete in school history to go four for four, I was definitely excited.  I've been working hard every day I got the chance.  It means a lot to me.  There's always room for improvement but I'm definitely proud of myself.

What surprised you the most about all the splits you ran- 7.6 in the shuttles, 22.6 in the 4x200, 1:58 in the sprint medley, and 50 point in the 4x400? And which of your four races was the toughest and why?

My most surprising split was definitely the 7.6 in shuttle.  It's only my second year doing straight hurdles, I've gotten a whole lot better with the few little straight hurdle races I had.  When I heard I ran 7.6, I knew I could drop a fast open time when the time comes.  My hardest race of the day was the 4x400. I had just ran a fast 800 previously.

Of the four races you ran, which of your performances impressed you the most and why?

I was surprised about the 4x400. When I ran, I knew I had more to put out. I could've gone faster.

How about the way your whole team performed at the State Relays. What can you say about the way everyone stepped up, and what does it mean to you and the guys to win the Group 2 Relays championship for the second straight year?

I am really proud of my team.  They put in as much work as I did.  A lot of people stepped up.  Last year, Darryl Wayman and Kevin Mosley didn't even run at state relays.  This year Darryl was on 3 of the winning teams, and Kevin was on 2.  Our shot putters stepped up huge.  It's the first time in a couple years we've gotten points in shot put.  It was a combined effort from everyone.  And when we won, we were proud of ourselves and proud of each other.  We are one big family and work hard for each other.

Every track and field athlete strives to hit PR's,so what are your biggest goals for the rest of this season and the outdoor season? What kind of times are you hoping to hit?

I do have PR's set for myself.  For my main event, the 800 which I haven't ran yet, I'm hoping to get to 1:53 indoors at worst. In the 400, my goal is to run low to sub 48.

You are such a versatile track and field athlete with such great range, so I am wondering what your favorite race is to run and why?

My favorite race to run is the 800.  Many people don't agree with me, but I like the phases of the race, where anything could happen.  It's the most exciting, and is still considered a long sprint.  t's the one race where it could be anyone's race, and it's the toughest win.

There aren't many track and field athletes in the state that have your range from the short sprints, to the 400 hurdles, to the 800. Most sprinters don't even want to try the 800 or the 400 hurdles, so what made you decide to go beyond the 400, and what do you enjoy the most about such an all-round athlete?

I remember being asked if I wanted to try the 800. I said yes, and it turned it out I wasn't so bad. I enjoy being able to do a lot of the events and doing sprints and distance in the same meet mixed with hurdles.

What do you consider your greatest strengths as a track and field athlete?

As a track and field, the greatest strength I have is a strong mentality.  As much as it's a physically fit sport, it's even more as a mental sport.  When the practices get hard or the the last 100 of my race gets hard, my mental strength determines I far you go.  When my body wants to quit, I can't.

What do you love the most about the sport of track and field?

I absolutely love the connections and relationships I built with people in track and field. It's given me a chance to meet so many great people.  I love my team, I love my coaches, and it's a great experience.

After you ran so well at the Sectionals (first in the 400 hurdles and third in the 400) and at the State Group Championships (third in the 400 hurdles) last spring, I noticed you didn't run at the Meet of Champions. Did you have an injury that prevented you from competing? If so, what was the injury and how long did it take you to recover?

Unfortunately, last outdoor I was battling a lot of injuries.  I pulled both of my hamstrings and didn't let them heal all the way when meet of champs came.  It took a month and half after the season to fully recover.

When are you racing next and what are your goals?

I'm running the 4x200 and the open hurdles this Saturday at the NY Armory. I'm hoping my relay can run 1:30, but in the hurdles I want to run 7.8. I will be running my first 800 at the NJ Metropolitan Invit., and I want to run under 1:55.

When was your first big breakthrough moment when you realized that you had the potential to be a great track and field athlete?

I first ran track when I was 8 years old. I started running because of my friend. It wasn't until when I was 11 that I took it more seriously.  My first breakthrough was the 49 I ran during my sophomore year.  That was the start of my high school achievements.

How much time do you spend watching videos of pro or college athletes, and who do you watch, and what have you learned from watching them?

I spend most of my nights watching Joseph Fahnbulleh. I think I compare to him the most. My top end speed is the best part of my race. 

Note: Fahnbulleh won the 100 and 200 at the 2022 NCAA Division 1 Championships for the University of Florida. In 2021, he was the flag bearer for Liberia at the Olympic Games in Tokyo, where he finished fifth in the 200 in 19.98, a national record for Liberia. He now runs professionally for Asics.

How about the future, Lathan? What colleges have you visited, and what do you hope to major in?

I took a few college visits to Fordham, Rutgers, and I took a Junior Day at the University of Iowa.  I want to major in either Environmental Sciences or Pre-Med.

If you weren't a track and field athlete, what sport would you be playing?

If I didn't run indoor track, I could see me doing basketball or year round football. I still played football in the fall.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

In 10 years I see myself helping the world in any way I can.

What advice would you give to younger track and field athletes who are just starting out in the sport?

The advice I give to the athletes starting in the sport is that give time to the sport,  and keep working hard because you will reach your goal, and you will better yourself on and off the track.