Junior Brock Simmons has always been interested in sports. He earned his black belt in martial arts when he was younger and was also involved in kung-fu, ice hockey and roller hockey.
He even tried his hand at football in high school, but that didn’t last long.
“I was god awful at it,” he said.
Because of his athleticism, Simmons said that his story of becoming a runner is the same as everyone else’s.
“No one just loves to get into running,” Simmons said. “Every athlete had to run cross-country at my high school, so I just fell into it.”
Simmons’ coaches put him into standard track events but eventually realized that the mile was where Simmons truly shined.
“I didn’t take it too seriously in the beginning,” Simmons said. “I knew I had a gift, so I just took it and, well, ran with it.”
Though he won a great deal of races in high school, Simmons did not think about running at the next level until his senior year, when calls started coming in from colleges.
“I realized then that I could do this forever,” he said. “I looked at some small schools and I was really interested in Baylor and Arkansas.”
After winning the Texas Relays his senior year, however, Simmons was invited by UT on a trip with the team — that was when he knew Texas was where he wanted to be.
“I knew Austin would be a cool place to live and to go to school,” Simmons said. “I called the coach on my way home from the trip and committed right then, telling him to make me a Longhorn.”
Because of injuries, Simmons was redshirted as a freshman and not able to participate. Simmons’ girlfriend, psychology senior Alex Turner, said he did not let being hurt keep him down.
“I’ve never met someone with so much determination and dedication,” Turner said. “He puts his entire heart into running and it’s so inspiring to see him work towards his goal day in and day out.”
As a sophomore, Simmons put that determination to use and focused on getting his feet back under him after being out for so long. During this time, the men’s running program experienced a coaching transition, as current head coach John Hayes came in. Simmons took to his training methods immediately.
Hayes took a subpar team, with all of its superstars graduated, and made them into quite a group.
Simmons ended up being Texas’ fifth runner in cross his second year, but his breakthrough came in his third year. Simmons managed first place at the team’s opener at Princeton, making him third overall.
Simmons placed fourth in last year’s Big 12 meet, and 12th at the regional meet. Texas earned a second place finish at regionals, catapulting them to the national meet, where Simmons finished 120th.
This year, the Longhorns will once again travel to the Princeton Invitational for their opener on Oct. 16, and the team feels good after such hard training.
“I really think it will be a battle between Texas guys this year,” Simmons said. “It’d be cool to get first to fifth, so we’ll see.”
Personally, Simmons usually competes at a faster level than he trains at, and with injuries being a constant threat, the junior goes in to ice three times a day after workouts.
“Some people can run and be just fine, but I have to stay on top of things,” he said. “I just have to flip a switch and get serious.”
When he does have time to relax, though, Simmons enjoys hunting, causing his teammates to classify him as “a redneck.”
“I grew up in Denton, which isn’t a redneck town, really, but there are rednecks in my family, for sure,” Simmons said. “I like to think I’m pretty classy, though. I mean, I do shop at Express.”