Like many young and impressionable sprinters, Brandon Benson idolizes Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest human who, at 6-foot-5, possesses a stride that makes gazelles envious.
Benson, however, has spent the past couple of months demonstrating there’s more than one way to break a tape.
Standing 5-8, the Whiteland Community High School junior is anything but an imposing presence when lowering himself into a starter’s block.
Then the starter’s pistol sounds and, in the time it takes to look up, Benson has become imposing.
Benson is one of many Johnson County track and field athletes taking part in today’s Connersville Regional with sights set on qualifying for the annual IHSAA Boys Track and Field State Finals at Indiana University on June 7.
He served notice at last week’s Columbus North Sectional, winning the 100-meter dash in 10.91 seconds and the 200 in 22.36 and handling lead-off chores for the Warriors’ first-place 400-meter relay team (43.25).
There’s a chance Benson also could be taking part in Whiteland’s 1,600 relay at Connersville.
Whatever is needed, he’s there. Baton or no baton.
Pretty impressive credentials for someone who as a freshman two years ago could only manage 100 times that were slightly more than 12 seconds.
“I thought when Brandon was a freshman, that because of his work ethic he could be on varsity some day. But if you told me he would be running a 10.91 and 22.36, I would have said you were crazy,” Warriors coach Brandon Bangel said.
“Brandon’s got a good start, but his greatest attribute is his technique. He has no wasted motion at all. His arms don’t cross over his body. Everything is about moving forward. It’s kind of a rare thing to see kids home in and run the way they’re supposed to run.”
Benson is the classic case of individual persistence paying dividends.
For sake of comparison, his sectional experience on the same Columbus North track a year ago resulted in placing sixth in the 100 in 11.79 seconds and not even taking part in the 200.
“I’ve been a sprinter since my seventh-grade year, but eighth grade was when I first was fastest on the team,” Benson said. “It was probably the indoor track season this winter that I really started to gain confidence.”
Benson parlayed this positive mindset into a victory in the 100 at the Johnson County Meet in a time of 11.05, which had been his previous career best leading up to last week’s sectional.
Benson understands he’ll be surrounded by numerous outstanding sprinters at regional, including Marshall junior Stoney Prowell (10.94), Franklin Central’s Marcel Price (11.18) and Warren Central’s Deonte Milligan (11.20) to name but a few.
Awaiting him in the 200 will be Warren Central junior Isaiah Thomas, whose blistering 21.52 erased the 8-year-old record at the Warren Central Sectional.
For Benson it’s a matter of keeping low, maintaining focus and sticking to his mechanics.
“I feel my height is an advantage when I start because you have to come out low out of the blocks,” he said.
No matter what transpires today in the rural surroundings of Fayette County, the events of this spring have served as a strong building block for his final year of high school track.
Benson might not stand any taller a year from now. The same can’t be said for his reputation.