Josh Braverman knows who he is, and what he’s capable of. The rest of the state does, too.
Braverman, a River Ridge High School senior, has been Washington’s top-ranked hurdler since the track and field season began.
Last week, he became the first hurdler to run the 110-meter race in less than 14 seconds, posting a 13.99 at the Class 2A West Central District championships in Renton.
He’s still the only hurdler in the state to run the 300 hurdles in less than 38 seconds after running a 37.62 in March.
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Braverman, who signed with the University of Iowa in November, is ranked in the top 50 in both races nationally.
He is, needless to say, the clear favorite to win both hurdles events at the 2A state championships this weekend at Mount Tahoma Stadium in Tacoma.
“Right now, I’m trying to focus on having a clean race, getting over the hurdles fast, taking advantage of the weather and just soaking it all up,” Braverman said.
Braverman is determined to put the stamp on an impressive high school career.
He swiftly won the 300 hurdles last year as a junior, to become the 50th track and field champion in River Ridge’s history.
He was edged in the 110’s by Bellingham’s Benjamin Doucette, but hasn’t lost a hurdles race in the state of Washington since last May.
Braverman has been a runner-up in the event just once this year, when he traveled to Eugene for the Oregon Relays.
He would have broken the meet record there, had Vancouver College’s Anastas Eliopoulos not run the race just a hair faster.
But, Braverman has shaved more than a tenth of a second off of his 110 hurdles time since. And he’s still undefeated in the 300 hurdles entering the weekend.
“I’m excited,” he said. “I know I can only get better from here. I’m just trying to leave my legacy.”
That begins with more state titles. But, Braverman is also chasing something bigger.
“I’m more focused on beating the records,” he said. “I’m not worried about the field, which I feel like is the best thing to do coming into a race.”
Braverman is after the all-time Washington state records in both races.
Steilacoom’s Daniel Zmuda (13.84) set the 110 hurdles record in 2013, and Garfield’s Mark Phillips (36.57) has held the 300 hurdles record since 1986.
“I think Josh has an honest chance to break the all-time state high hurdles mark,” said Yelm coach Mike Strong, who has worked sporadically with Braverman throughout the season.
Strong coached for more than a decade at the college level, most recently at Cal, and has helped Braverman tune his technique.
Strong also coached former Yelm hurdler, Jake Hanson, who held the records for both races at Tumwater’s annual Shaner Invitational since 2004, until Braverman broke them this season.
Braverman said he’s specifically been working on his starts, coming over the hurdles, and getting his lead leg on the ground faster.
“The goal is to hit the ground so you can run,” Strong said. “The better you can do that, the faster you’re going to go.”
Because Braverman has focused heavily on the mechanics of his races his senior season, Strong said he doesn’t think there will be much of a learning curve when he gets to Iowa.
“Now that he’s had more training and development it will be better for him, because now he’ll step in and be able to understand a broader concept of the hurdles,” Strong said.
Braverman hopes to compete some this summer before he jettisons off to college in August, and still has time to set elusive records.
The 2A state meet records are certainly within reach, too. He’s already topped the 110 hurdles mark White River’s Devin Liebel set in 2013 at 14.17.
And, he’s approaching the 300 hurdles record Craig Allen of North Maston set in 2013 at 37.33.
This weekend, Braverman will also run the 100 — he’s tied for the seventh-ranked position in 2A in that race — and a leg of the 4x100 relay.
He could reach the podium four times by Saturday night, with River Ridge’s relay team ranked third, just as he did last year.