Events: 100/200/400 relay/1,600 relay
He's qualified because: Rebounded from a horrific experience in the 2010 Central Section Masters Championships – running out of his lane and being disqualified in both the 200- and 400-meter runs – and won the 100, placed second in the 200 and contributed legs on gold-medal 400- and 1,600 relay teams while leading the Bears to a third straight boys section team title. The 400 relay then placed third in the state – the fourth-best section boys finish in the event since it began on the state level in 1968.
For a high school track and field program that has set standards for its system and fundamentals, Buchanan is one you'd expect least to have a technical error on a big stage.
But in the Central Section Masters Championships in late May 2010 – on his home track at Veterans Memorial Stadium, no less – Bears junior Chris Brusenback slipped not once, but twice.
At 6:15 p.m., he was disqualified for running out of his lane in the 400-meter race.
At 7:40 p.m., he was disqualified for running out of his lane in the 200.
"I've never seen that happen in my life," says Brian Weaver, who's seen a lot – generally positive – having won a combination of six boys and girls section team titles in 16 years as Buchanan's coach.
Says Brusenback: "I wasn't focused on anything but running fast and I kind of went out of my mind-set on the turns."
One year later, the senior is The Bee's boys track and field Athlete of the Year for not only staying in his lane, but usually outrunning others in theirs as the driving force behind a historical Bears season.
- He became Buchanan's first section 100 gold medalist, regardless of gender, in the program's 19-year history with a wind-aided 10.65. His season-best legal of 10.80 is a school record.
- He placed second in the section 200 at 21.75. He'd clocked a school-record 21.64 a week earlier in the North Area Meet.
- He ran the second leg on a 400 relay that won the section, timed a season-best 41.37 – school record and No. 8 in section history – and finished third in the state. Only three others from the section – Edison (1973), Tulare (1988) and Bakersfield (1995) – have placed higher in the state, each with seconds, since the event was introduced at that level in 1968.
- As an anchor, he brought the Bears from far behind to win the section 1,600 relay in a school-record 3:18.54.
- All told, Brusenback, accounted for 23 of the Bears' 108 section-meet points – third in the meet's 93-year history to Bakersfield's 126 in 1984 and Coalinga's 121 in 1917.
And this was an athlete who wasn't fast enough to even make a relay team as a sophomore.
"He wasn't good enough, he wasn't top four on the team – ever," Weaver says. "Then he blew up and got physically and mentally stronger. He was a tall kid who went through some growing and the light went on. He said, 'I want to do this. I want to be good.' We held him accountable, and some amazing things happened."
And let there be no doubt: The 6-foot-2 Brusenback held himself accountable, effective one week following that debacle in the 2010 section Masters.
His standout senior year also included his impact as a defender for Buchanan's D-I championship soccer team. He could have extended his career in the sport at Azusa Pacific, but will run track instead at Fresno State.
"I went home and was depressed for awhile," he says of the 2010 Masters experience. "Then I realized, 'Hey, I can make it better.' And that's when I started getting motivated. As a junior, I still had a second chance, and I put it toward training even harder."
Throughout, the priorities came down to one: "I always focused on staying in the middle of the lane."