Aaron Bracken is only a junior at Benton, but he was prepared to take over the role as a leader on the boys track team.
“Ever since my freshman year I’ve been running varsity, and I’ve been with real good team leaders,” Bracken said. “There are only three people older than me on the team.”
Bracken, an unpretentious 18-year-old, handles himself with quiet assurance. As the oldest sprinter for a young Cardinals team, he said his role as a leader is sometimes surprising.
“It’s different, real different, because I’m not used to it,” Bracken said. “I didn’t really know what it was going to be like until this year. I’ve got to think about every bit I’m doing because if I do something wrong it’s not just going to affect me. It’s going to affect everyone under me.”
Tre Cooper, a Benton sophomore, is the other Benton sprinter who will compete at today’s City Track Meet. He said Bracken has helped him develop as a first-year runner.
“He’s not a senior, but he might as well be,” Cooper said. “He’s go that same quality about him.”
Cooper said Bracken taught him to relax before meets.
“It’s more like you’re competing against yourself,” Cooper said. “It’s not like you can control what the other people are doing. He just tells me ‘don’t worry about it.'”
Bracken and Cooper will compete in the 100- and 200-meter events today. Benton athletes will not run in the relay events because they have a track meet at Excelsior Springs on Friday, but Bracken said he is ready for today’s competition.
“I’ve run against everyone in the city ever since I was a little kid,” Bracken said. “I always look forward to running against them because they’re great competition. When you’re running against your friends, you’re not really nervous, because you know your potential and their potential, so you just do your best.”
Bracken said he’ll look out for Central sprinters Andrew Blakley and Josh Zillner, and he is unsure about which runners will compete for Lafayette. He has no particular race-day strategies or superstitions; he just goes to school, and when that final bell rings he laces up his running shoes.
“Then it’s just down to business,” Bracken said. “You do what you’ve got to do.”