Warriors Athlete of Week: Warriors’ Stark speeding up honor roll
Brandon Stark is already beating his times from last year in the 400-meter dash.
BRAINERD -- Brandon Stark is knocking on the door.
The junior owns the fourth fastest 400-meter dash time in Brainerd Warriors track and field history with the 50.10 he ran Tuesday, April 18, at the Warrior Quadrangular. What’s even more remarkable about Stark’s early season time is that it is .01 seconds faster than the time he put down at the Class 3A State Finals at St. Michael/Albertville High School last spring.
Stark finished eighth at state with a 50.11 after qualifying for the weekend finals with a 50.46 during the preliminary round.
“On Athletic.net, he’s ranked No. 1 in the state with his 50.1,” Brainerd head boys track and field coach Rod Reuer said. “First time out, last week when it wasn’t the greatest conditions. It was fine, but it was cool so it was a little surprising to go that fast so early. Plus, he was out there all by himself. There wasn’t a lot of competition running with him. That time was run basically on his own.”
Stark said he’s shooting for high 47s and low 48s for the 400 dash and he’s going to try to get into the 21-second realm for the 200 dash.
Those high expectations and quick start are a product of the work he put in during the winter.
“I was doing USATF (United States of America Track and Field) meets throughout the offseason and all of those guys were pretty good,” Stark said. “I was typically behind those guys so it was a little weird. I was used to running that whole winter and so I already knew what I had to do for last week’s race and I just stuck to that plan.”
Stark’s also got his eyes on the 200-meter dash honor roll. He opened the outdoor season running a first-place 22.8, which is just .06 seconds off the top 15 list.
“Early in the year and pretty cool late in the evening and again not a lot of competition beside him,” Reuer said. “I would guess he’s going to be mid to high 22s. He’s got that range. We’re focusing on that 200 and 400 right now and see if it's good enough to get him into that Hamline Elite Meet.”
For the last two years, Stark has been a member of Brainerd’s 4x800 relay. The team of Stark, Michael Howe, Baden Bastian and Thomas Ruhl finished third at last year’s state meet with an 8:00.5 time. It was the second straight year Stark advanced to state with that relay.
The other three members of the relay graduated, which means Stark will take his talents to a different relay.
“It was a mutual agreement,” said Reuer. “He’s always had good 200 speed. He’s one of those kids who can bump from the 200 to the 400 to the 800 pretty easily. He became an 800 runner in the last couple of years primarily because we needed that extra leg on the 4x800 relay to solidify it and make it a state-qualifying and state-placing relay. This year, we just don’t have quite the depth at the 800 spot to put together a solid 4x8. You move him around to where our strengths are and right now those are back down in the sprints.”
He's not afraid of hard work and he demonstrates that every day in practice.
At last week’s Brainerd meet, the foursome of Stark, Dillon MacLaughlin, Isaak Malay and Charlie Pikula ran a first-place 1:32.26. That’s less than a second off the Warrior Honor Roll despite being the first outdoor meet.
The last time a Warrior 4x200 relay cracked into the top 15 was in 2014.
“The 4x2 is looking really good,” Stark said. “We have super high hopes for that. We’ve got a bunch of young and athletic kids on there so hopefully we can do something with that.”
Stark came into the season with a lot of confidence following last year’s state meet and the work he put in during the offseason. Instead of playing basketball this past winter, he chose to prepare for the track and field season. He hopes the decision helps him land a spot on a college roster.
It was after his freshman season and advancing to state in the 4x800 that he really felt he could do something in track.
“Track and field means a lot,” Stark said. “Even though it’s super fun and super competitive, I want to do something out of high school. It’s really important for me.”
He is hoping to try the triple jump this season to compete in the four-event maximum for a meet. He really wants to give pole vaulting a try, too.
No matter what events he is in, Stark is a favorite to do well.
“He’s got some natural quick-twitch muscle. He’s always had that,” Reuer said. “He’s an explosive athlete as far as jumping ability and how he carries himself. He’s an explosive athlete. He’s kind of one of those stringy, lean-looking guys that don’t necessarily look like they’re that strong, but they’re a lot stronger than they look.
“The other thing is, he has also worked unbelievably hard in the weight room doing the things he needs to do to get stronger. This is all year long. One of Brandon’s faults is that he might push himself too hard. We’ve had to convince him to back off a little bit because he’s always wanting to be better. He's not afraid of hard work and he demonstrates that every day in practice.
“He’s got inherent talent, but he also puts in a lot of work on the track and out of season as well.”
JEREMY MILLSOP may be reached at 855-5856 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter at www.twitter.com/jeremymillsop.
Sport: Track and field
Position: Sprints, relays
Career highlight: Placing eighth in last year’s Class 3A State 400-meter dash
Other sports: Football
Grade-point average: 3.8
Favorite class: Adventure and Challenge
Favorite food: Mashed potatoes and gravy
Favorite movie: “Transformers”
Favorite TV show: “Outer Banks
Favorite musician: Polo G
Favorite restaurant: California Burrito
Future plans: Attend college and compete in track and field
Favorite athlete: Sauce Gardner
Parents: Cindy and Brett Stark
Other notable performances
Isaac Hanson, baseball, struck out eight over five scoreless innings against Sartell.
Cora Clough, girls’ track and field, won the 200-meter dash and the high jump at the Brainerd Quadrangular.
Brenna Deason, girls’ track and field, won the 100-meter dash and pole vault at the Brainerd Quadrangular.
Maren Ceynowa, softball, went 2-3 with a double, home run, two runs and four RBIs against Alexandria.
Josie Kappes, softball, went 3-4 with three runs and two RBIs against Alexandria and added three hits and two RBIs against Moorhead.
Jozie Tautges, softball, struck out seven over five scoreless innings to pitch the victory against Alexandria.
Mya Tautges, softball, went 3-6 with a double, triple and three RBIs and pitched the victory against Moorhead.