Cheektowaga’s 4x800 highlights what’s ahead in spring
Steering the Warriors are Rich Bridenbaker and Ken McCracken, who use the winter to try to stay ahead of the game.
“We use indoor as a four-month prep time for outdoor,” said McCracken. “When you’re competing against programs that don’t have indoor, you’re four months ahead of the curve. So it’s a great tune up.”
The coaching staff is especially excited for the season that the boys are having this winter.
“We’re a little bit light on numbers, but the boys that we do have are really good,” said Bridenbaker. “Not only do they have the intangibles, but they’re pretty gifted.”
Among those athletes is junior Tim Whelan, who either holds or will be breaking plenty of distance records and is one-fourth of one of the best 4x800 teams in the state.
“Obviously we want to compete and make it to sectionals for indoor, but we’re really getting ready for outdoor,” said Whelan. “Outdoor is where we can really go at it, win the division and go to states.”
“Tim is just a stud,” said Bridenbaker. “He’s an all around distance guy and he has really good compliment guys around him in the 4x8.”
Sophomore Jack Behlmaier and juniors Kobe Walenka and Noah McGhee complete the 4x800 with Whelan. While they hold individual school records of their own, Behlmaier believes together as a relay they can be special.
“For the 600, I really want to get top five in sectionals,” said Behlmaier. “But in the 4x800, we’re trying to go to states. That would be pretty cool.”
Bridenbaker and McCracken have been impressed by the performances of their senior captains, as well.
Dave Kerling is the school’s pole vault record holder, while James Hanners, Cheektowaga’s shot put record holder, can be found in every corner of the field during meets.
“The thing is, he’s a standout thrower and then he’ll get on the track and run hurdles, which is a very complicated event,” said Bridenbaker. “Then he tries to one-up that by going to pole vault, which is even more difficult. It just shows how great of an athlete he is.”
Since taking over the indoor track program three years ago, Bridenbaker and McCracken have taken a lot of pride in what they do, and the results have shown.
“We’ve taken this program and got about 40 school records with the kids we’ve been coaching,” said McCracken. “The kids that are here right now and just graduated are the kids that made this program, and I think we’re a huge part of that.”