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Frank Bria
Inducted: 2019 - Graduated: 1970

Dating back to elementary school in 1963, Frank began to show interest in track and field, particularly in the sprints. Growing up Frank was known for his speed whether it be in organized sporting events or pick-up football games. Frank’s first official race was a 50 yard dash which he won at the Highview Elementary School Field Day. As the years progressed Frank continued his interest in all sports, but track and field was his first love focusing on sprints and hurdles. All of these activities had prepared Frank for trying out for the high school track and field team.

In 9th grade Frank joined the Nanuet High School Track & Field Team under Coach Dave Hanson. His first interest when joining the team was hurdles and pole vaulting, but that interest was short lived. Coach Hanson directed Frank to focus on sprints which included both the 100 and 220 yard dashes and the 880 relay. During Frank’s freshman year his mentor was Nanuet’s great Ed (The Machine) Faust. Ed ran both sprints with incredible focus and determination and during that year tutored Frank in all aspects of sprint- ing. This early mentoring and support from a seasoned veteran proved to be invaluable during Frank’s three years on the Nanuet Varsity Track & Field Team. In his freshman year, Frank had placed 2nd and 3rd place in the sprints, but what was most invaluable was the understanding of competition and areas which needed additional focus-his starts.

In addition to being a member of the track and field team, Frank also played two years (1967-68) on the varsity football team as a kickoff and punt returner. During Frank’s sports career at Nanuet he was afflicted with numerous injuries which included a tackle by his teammate and 880 yard relay partner Thad Wilson in sophomore year. This injury led to extensive surgery on his left knee which included the removal of all cartilage from that knee and ending the season. This injury challenged Frank both mentally and physically challenging his ability to continue to improve as a sprinter and advance to a higher level performer. As the months went on, Frank focused on rehabilitation and staying positive for the upcoming sports season.

Three strenuous months of rehabilitation ended and Frank was in peak physical condition for the 1968 spring track and field season. Although Frank had concerns about his performance, especially after surgery, he was excited to begin the new season and ended up having a successful comeback. His overall performance was better than he predicted and at the end of the track and field season Frank was named All-County in the 100 and 220 yard dash as well as the 3rd leg of the All-County 880 Relay Team. A favorite event of Frank’s was the 880 Relay which included teammates Thad Wilson, Johnny Poletto, Frank and Freddy Hodges who served as anchor. This team was undefeated due to great teamwork, flawless handoffs and passion to win.

During 1968 Frank set a Nanuet High School 100 yard dash record of 9.9 which has never been broken. Frank remembers this time like it was yesterday; all of the ’68 season, Frank continually hit 10.0 flat. The day before his last regular season meet, Frank bet his father that he would break 10.0. If he was successful, a 1965 Sunbeam Alpine in the car lot on Route 59 in Nanuet would be in their driveway. The next day Frank hit the 9.9 100 yard dash record! His father would never bet against him again.

Frank credits his comeback and his success in 1968 to his peers and teammates. As much as they were compet- itive, they were all friends and supported each other. Frank’s internal competition included the great Freddy Hodges, Ricky Robinson, Tommy Harris, Juan Ramos and Bobby Burton, who all played a role in his come- back. Thad Wilson, Johnny (JP) Poletto and Coach Hanson were also extremely supportive during this stage of Frank’s career.

A story that Frank tells to this day is about teammate Freddy Hodges. Although Freddy was very compet- itive, he had a “practical joker” way about him. One time Frank had brand new Adidas blue spikes which he bought in the famous little Adidas Track Store in Park Ridge, New Jersey. Freddy wore Adidas Gold spikes. Freddy had an idea and talked Frank into switching spikes the next race. Using Frank’s spikes, Freddy won the 100 yard dash that day in 10.1 and Frank placed second with 10.2. Frank made a com- ment to Freddy’s and told him that his shoes were so big he felt like he was running in slippers. When the exchange of spikes occurred, Frank’s new spikes were all stretched out from his big feet! That was a lesson learned and very well planned.

In 1969, Frank was asked by Coach Bob West to try his hand at soccer, not aa popular decision due to the previous knee injury, but Frank obliged. During the soccer season he started on defense where he gained so much respect for the sport, competition and comradery with his teammates. With one game left in the regular season, Frank’s left knee was injured which required a second surgery on his left knee for a torn ACL.

In the off-season, Frank’s first priority was rehabilitation, training and mentally preparing for the spring track and field season. With two knee surgeries under his belt, Frank had a constant concern about how fast he could safely run; this played heavily on his mind. On many occasions Frank’s fear of continued injury was on his mind and he was often criticized for not running to his potential. After this second surgery, Frank’s approach was to not race for time or records, but to add valuable points for his team and teammates.

Overall, Frank considered the 1969 Track and Field season successful, not only from a team standpoint but for individual achievements.

  • Set new Nanuet High School 100 yard dash time of 9.8 (never broken)

  • All-County RCPSAL 100 yard dash Champion

  • All-County selection 100 and 220 yard dash

  • New York State Qualifier

  • Section 9- 100 yard dash Champion

  • All-County, All-County Record holder and State Alternate 880 Relay Team

  • Coaches All-County Track Team Selection

  • Bergen Record Track and Field Selection - 100 yard dash

  • Nyack Jaycee State Track Meet 880 Relay Champions Open Division

  • Nanuet High School Track Record 9.8 ( Home Track )

  • Nanuet High School 100 yard and 100 meters Record Holder

  • Most points in career 3rd -307 points (3) years

  • Most points in season 4th -134 points

  • 7 Varsity Letters accumulated in Varsity Football, Varsity Track and Field, Varsity Soccer and Varsity Winter Indoor Track.

    Frank’s father, Frank Jr. as well as his sister Marilynne were his biggest supporters during his three year track and field career. In addition to his supportive role, Frank Jr. was an active member in the Nanuet Black and Gold Club and an initiator and supporter for Coach Dave Hanson of the first Nanuet Relays in 1968. Along with Frank’s father and sister, Frank credits Mr. John Poletto as his mentor which was invaluable in Frank’s future.

    Frank and his wife Chris has been living in Apex, North Carolina for the past 25 years along with their children Frank, Michael, Katie and Niki. He is now retired after 46 years in the Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology industry holding numerous leadership roles at Wyeth, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca but continues to consult for companies in the Raleigh, NC area. Frank enjoys spending time with his family at their lake home on Lake Gaston, NC where all partake in boating, kayaking, jet skiing, fishing and just enjoying nature.