AV Bennett became Bishop Diego’s first two-event CIF champion in track & field this spring by sweeping the 100 and 200 at the Southern Section’s Division 4 Championships held at Cerritos College.
Not bad for a newcomer to the sport. Bennett had displayed great athletic talent as a kick returner and defensive back for the Cardinals’ highly successful football team but competing in spikes was a first-time thing for the junior speed demon.
He was talked into trying out for track by coach Jason Gamble.
“I showed up at my first practice and I actually really liked it,” Bennett said.
From there Bennett credited Coach Gamble and Coach Veronica Gines with creating a comfortable environment in which to perform.
Without any track experience, Bennett showed promise thanks to his natural speed and athleticism. The three-sport varsity athlete found that he needed to work on getting a strong start from the blocks.
Leading up to CIF, the coaches asked Bennett to move his feet slightly higher on the blocks. The extra leverage helped.
“It worked out pretty well actually,” Bennett said. “We practiced all week and I got it down.”
He said winning the CIF title was an incredible feeling. He was surprised by how intense the experience turned out the be.
“That week I was just so nervous,” Bennett said. “I would throw up because I was so nervous.”
Not knowing how well he would perform on the big stage, Bennett delivered a championship performance. His CIF winning times were 10.69 (wind 3.1) in the 100 and 21.88 in the 200. In both races Bennett came from behind to triumph. His previous best in the 100 was 10.94 at the Frontier League finals.
Gines was thrilled to see Bennett thrive on the track.
Since he is so new at it and this is his first year, just getting experience and getting to compete against some of the fastest athletes in California opened his eyes to the world of track and made him better,” Gines said. “To be the best you have to beat the best and I think that if he decides to put in the work this next year as well he will be able to do so.”
Find past High School Runners of the Month HERE
The High School Runner of the Month award recognizes local prep runners that exemplify the term “Student-Athlete” by demonstrating leadership, passion and excellence in high school athletics.
Thanks to Santa Barbara Running Company for making this award possible and for supporting local athletes.