As Zeke Bennett of the Hilliard Bradley High School boys track and field team will attest, the 400 meters is a demanding race.
However, that hasn't stopped the senior from excelling in the event. His personal-best time is 50.06 seconds, and he's trying to run down the program record of 48.87, set by Matt Johnson in 2014.
"You have to bite down and hope for the best," Bennett said of running the 400. "I sprint the whole way.
"You have to have a good 400 foundation to be a good 800 or 200 runner. You have to have the foot speed of a 200 runner, and you have to be able to hold your speed like an 800 runner. It helps you in pretty much any event."
Coach Ben Gadfield said Bennett's toughness is what makes him a good runner and leader.
"You have to be tough in the 400," Gadfield said. "You're sprinting for 400 meters. Zeke is a tough kid and he's pretty athletic. He's smart and his race strategy is pretty sound, and he has the whole package to be a good quarter-miler.
"Zeke brings a lot for us. He's a great leader with a good work ethic and he sets a great example for the younger kids. All around, he sets a great example for everyone."
Last season, Bennett was a Division I regional qualifier in the 400, finishing 11th in 50.69, but joined 2018 graduates Daevon Anderson and Kory Taylor and junior Matthew Drovdlic on the 800 relay that finished 12th (1:29.64) at state.
Bennett enjoyed the experience of competing at state, but running cross country for the first time last fall has boosted his performances this spring.
"I got a lot more endurance from running cross country last fall and it made me a stronger athlete running-wise," said Bennett, who played soccer his first three years at Bradley. "It really helped my endurance."
Gadfield said that Bennett's distance running has made a noticeable difference in his performances this spring.
"Zeke has the build and mindset for (running the 400) and I think running cross country last fall helped him a lot," said Gadfield, who also leads the boys cross country program. "He's already faster than he was at this time last year."
Bennett said he still has work to do to break the program record in the 400.
"My block work needs some help and I need to work on my finishing speed," he said. "I think I burn out too much in the first 60 to 80 meters by trying to get out too quickly. I think I need to be more patient and hold on a little longer until my final burst of speed with 150 (meters) left."
The Jaguars finished fourth (63 points) of six teams in the Wildcat Premier on April 25 at Davidson, behind champion Dublin Coffman (140). Bennett did not compete in the 400, instead running the 200, in which he finished fourth (23.01).
He also joined Kenyon Richardson, Derek Morgan and Ibrahim Dumbuya on the first-place 1,600 relay (3:30.91).
"The team aspect is my favorite part (of track)," said Bennett, who has committed to compete in track at Wittenberg University. "All of our good runners are 400 runners and we push each other to get times where we want them to be.
"The (1,600 relay) is my favorite event. It's the last event (of a meet) and everyone is pumped up for it, especially when it's under the lights."
Softball team gets set for postseason
The softball team is seeded 17th of 45 teams in the Division I district tournament and will play host to 22nd-seeded New Albany in the first round Monday, May 6.
The winner plays 13th-seeded Upper Arlington in the second round Wednesday, May 8, at Tremont Elementary, with that winner advancing to a district semifinal May 13.
"We're about where I thought we would be (in terms of seed), middle of the pack," said coach Kevin Moody, whose team was 11-7 overall and 8-4 in the OCC-Cardinal Division before playing Dublin Jerome on April 30. "Our record pretty much says where we should be. We don't have an easy road."
The Jaguars, who defeated Dublin Scioto 10-9 on April 29, close the regular season with home games Thursday, May 2, against Groveport and Friday, May 3, against Mount Vernon.
Through 17 games, Makenzie Hilling led the team with a .458 batting average, 25 RBI and a .552 on-base percentage, and she had scored 19 runs and had eight doubles. Jaiden Bryant led in home runs (9), runs (31), stolen bases (8) and slugging percentage (1.051) and was batting .441 with 23 RBI and had a .544 on-base percentage.
Annika Murray was batting .417 with 30 runs, eight doubles and seven stolen bases, McKenzi Shultz-Apps was hitting .397 with two home runs and 22 RBI, Michaela Medich was batting .380 with 11 RBI and Kenna McClellan was hitting .367 with three home runs, 18 RBI and 10 runs.
Soliman, Gilbert lead boys volleyball team
The boys volleyball team was 9-5 overall and 7-3 in the OCC-Cardinal before playing Jerome on April 30.
Through 14 matches, senior libero Attia Soliman had a team-high 212 digs (4.1 per game) and also had 15 aces and 39 assists.
Jonah Gilbert led in kills with 323 (6.5 per game), including a program-record 47 in a 25-15, 25-17, 18-25, 23-25, 15-12 league win over Worthington Kilbourne on April 4. The sophomore outside hitter also had 21 aces and 87 digs.
Below are the coming schedules for the Bradley baseball, boys lacrosse, girls lacrosse, boys tennis, track & field and boys volleyball teams:
*May 3 -- At Dublin Scioto
May 4 -- At Pickerington North
*May 6 -- Home vs. Scioto
*May 8 -- Home vs. Darby
*May 2 -- Home vs. Olentangy Berlin. Completion of game suspended by bad weather April 25.
May 7 -- Home vs. Marysville
May 2 -- At Gahanna
May 7 -- At Westerville North
May 2 -- Home vs. Pickerington North
May 3 -- At Whetstone
May 6 -- Home vs. DeSales
May 7 -- Home vs. Grove City
TRACK & FIELD
May 3 -- Bradley Invitational
*May 2 -- Home vs. Scioto. The Jaguars defeated the Irish 25-21, 19-25, 25-17, 25-14 on April 11.
May 3 -- Home vs. Briggs
*May 6 -- Home vs. Thomas Worthington. The Jaguars defeated the Cardinals 25-16, 25-12, 25-27, 25-12 on April 18.
*May 7 -- At Darby. The Jaguars lost to the Panthers 25-15, 23-25, 30-28, 25-16 on April 16.