Senior Spotlight: Local runner followed family line, developed own legacy

Sometimes, a picture can speak louder than words. That is the case for a memory held dear by Ryan Brownfield, senior business management major and cross country runner at Waynesburg University.


Brownfield’s brother, Eric, also competed for Waynesburg’s cross country team. During Eric’s final collegiate race at the 2017 PAC Championships, the elder Brownfield led the younger. The closing moments of that race, however, led to the photo finish Ryan recalls as his fondest memory as a cross country runner at Waynesburg. 


“For the first time in my collegiate career I caught up to [Eric],” Ryan said. “We finished that race together as we crossed the finish line hand in hand.”


Chris Hardie, head men’s and women’s cross country coach, also remembers that race fondly.


“It was something that amazed us to see,” Hardie said. “We are lucky enough to have captured a photograph.”


Hardie has witnessed growth from Brownfield throughout his career at Waynesburg, both on and off the course.


“Ryan has not only grown as a runner, but he has grown as a leader while at Waynesburg,” Hardie said. “He did a great job this season leading a younger group of athletes. We trust him and respect him a great deal.”


Brownfield, a local kid graduated from Waynesburg Central, is pleased with what he has gotten from his hometown college..


“Waynesburg University has given me many people and experiences that I will cherish,” Brownfield said. “From the classroom to the course and everything in between, I enjoyed it all. The class of 2020 is clearly a standout group.”


From his cross country experience, Brownfield has learned a valuable lesson he will carry with him after graduation.


“The biggest thing that I have learned is dedication, to believe in yourself and to always work hard,” Brownfield said. “You need these three things to be successful in this sport, but a person also needs these characteristics in their life.”


Unfortunately, Brownfield and the Class of 2020’s senior year has been affected by COVID-19.


“Essentially everything that I am involved with has been canceled or put on hold,” Brownfield said. “It was unfortunate that my senior track season and college career has had to end this way.”


However, Brownfield is hopeful for his future post-graduation.


“I have recently been accepted into the Pittsburgh Fellows program and will be moving into their community in Sewickley starting at the end of August,” Brownfield said. “From there I will be working for an employer within Pittsburgh and will be very likely to be hired for a full-time position.”


Brownfield will also receive 12 graduate credits through the program which can be counted towards an MBA.


Hardie is confident in Brownfield’s skillset as he departs Waynesburg, and looks forward to watching him continue to lead as he has in college.


“I would urge him to continue being a leader in this world. He has the ability to lead people to greatness and to make this world a better place,” Hardie said. “I am confident he will continue to do that after graduation.”


For his teammates that will return to run for Waynesburg in the fall, Brownfield has a last piece of advice.


“Enjoy the little things and the people around you,” he said. “Whenever it’s all over, you won’t remember the times that you hit at a particular race or how good or bad you felt. The things you will remember are the laughs and the special moments you had with your teammates and friends.”