Warriors Athlete of the Week: No hurdle too high for Warriors Henke
Sport: Track and Field
Events: Hurdles and 4x400 relay
Career highlight: Making the finals of the Class 2A state 300-meter hurdles
Other sports: Football
Favorite class: Yoga
Favorite food: Pizza
Favorite movie: "Happy Gilmore"
Favorite TV show: "Game of Thrones"
Favorite website or app: Twitter
Favorite restaurant: Buffalo Wild Wings
Future plans: Run track at Minnesota State University, Mankato
Favorite athlete: Usain Bolt
Parents: Jon and Erica Henke
There are few hurdles Zach Henke has trouble overcoming.
One obstacle the Brainerd Warriors senior hurdler wants to master is the state meet double.
As a sophomore, Henke qualified for the Class 2A State Meet in the 110-meter hurdles. Last year, as a junior, he qualified in the 300 hurdles. In his final high school campaign, Henke wants to run both at the meet.
"I want to win the section in both hurdle events and make it to state with the relay, too," said Henke.
The varsity verteran is on course to see his goals happen.
At the Section 8-3A True Team meet Tuesday, May 7, in Brainerd, Henke won the 110s in 15.18 and the 300s in 40.78.
There's a bitterness motivating him this season. Henke just missed earning the double last season as he missed qualifying for state in the 110s and believes he should have.
"It was pretty frustrating because it was a race I should have won," Henke said. "I was the No. 1 seed and I just didn't run, our put together the right race to win."
Brainerd boys head coach Rod Reuer said last year's defeat is motivation for Henke and he stressed it won't be an easy feat to get the double this year either.
But there's a reason why Henke has been one of the top hurdlers for the Warriors the last three seasons.
"He's been just so fluid since forever," Reuer said. "I first saw Zach at my track camp when he was a fifth or a sixth grader. He already had the hurdle instincts at that point. His mom was a hurdler for us in high school. Maybe she introduced him to it a pretty young age. Just that body awareness and just the technique has come natural to him.
"He is about as smooth of a hurdler that we've had here. We've had some good ones. Jackson Walters was obviously our best, but you combine that, and we think he's got pretty good speed. We're toying with the idea of maybe in one of our smaller meets coming up to not hurdle, but just run the 100 and 200 dashes to see what kind of speed he actually has. You combine the good technique with the raw speed and that's what puts him in the category that he's in."
Henke's top 300 hurdles time is 39.19, which happened last year in the Class 2A State prelims. He then posted a 39.48 in the finals to finish sixth right behind teammate Jeff Spieker.
As a sophomore, Henke advanced to state in the 110s, but was disqualified for a hand on the hurdle.
"Obviously having Jeff was a big help because it motivated me to try and keep up with him," Henke said. "He really helped me along and making it to state and doing as well as we did was kind of in the back of our heads. We knew we could do it, but going in there and actually doing it felt really good."
Henke won the 300 hurdles in 40.09 and was second in the 110 hurdles with a 15.15 at the Wayzata Relays Friday, May 3. "The 110s went pretty good," Henke said. "I knew there was going to be some pretty good competition from the Cities and I almost put it together to win it. The second place put a bad taste in my mouth so I went out hard in the 300s and ran a clean race and just felt good to know that I could hang with the big schools."
Henke then led off Brainerd's winning 4x400 relay with Ethan Hebert, Ben Renner and Hunter Turcotte to a time of 3:29.25 at Wayzata. In Brainerd Tuesday, the foursome won in 3:28.51.
"We worked really hard to try and get into the Hamline Elite meet, which is the top nine in the state and we got into that," Henke said. "We didn't run as well as we wanted so we came back last week and had a pretty big personal record down in Wayzata and won that event so that was kind of cool. It was the perfect setup for a good race. Obviously making it to state would be a lot of fun, but the relay it's the team aspect of that. It would be fun to go down there with a bunch of my friends."
Henke is third all time in Brainerd's Honor Roll in the indoor 60-meter hurdles with an 8.62. He's fifth all time so far in the 110 hurdles with a 14.96 he ran last year and he's third all time in the 300 hurdles with a 39.19 he ran last year.
"He's a track guy," Reuer said. "Track is his life. He's tried other sports along the way and obviously was the kicker for the football team that last three years. Track is his thing. He plans to go on to college at Mankato State and run there. He's going to have to get bigger and stronger to compete at that level, but I think he might actually be a late maturer in the fact that I think he's bound to get bigger and stronger. That's probably the only thing that hinders him right now. He's still a pretty thin, wiry type kid. Sometimes when he hits the hurdle that hurdle gets the best of him more than it might if he was bigger and stronger, but that will come. He obviously ranks with one of the best we've had in our program here for a long time."
Other notable performances
• Evan Quinn, boys golf, placed sixth in the Presection 8-3A meet and fourth at the two-day Blaine Invite.
• Brady Anderson, baseball, finished 2-3 with two runs and an RBI against Sartell.
• Jenna Meyer, softball, doubled to tie the score and then scored the winning run against Alexandria.
• Josie Kramer, girls lacrosse, scored three goals against Becker.