CLINTON — It's not one of the better-liked events in a track and field meet, but it suits Jason Banker just fine. And, in a short time, the Clinton High senior has become one of the state's best in the 400-meter hurdles.
Saturday, Banker will run with the rest of the best at the Drake Relays, one of 15 area entrants at the prestigious meet. He made the elite field of eight when he ran this season's fourth-fastest time in any class at last Tuesday's Gateway Classic.
While that 54.77-second clocking is well off the CHS record, it's astonishing since it's a new event for him.
"Absolutely," Banker said when asked if he had surprised himself with how well he has done. "I didn't think I'd have a chance (at Drake)."
But Saturday afternoon around 2 p.m. he'll find himself on the blue oval at Drake Stadium, getting ready to run in an event he never even tried until this spring. By the time the state meet rolls around in May, he might be able to contend for the Class 4A title.
Running on the Drake track is not new for Banker. Last year, he qualified for state in the 400-meter dash and also ran the second leg on the River Kings' 1,600-meter relay unit that took fifth in the state meet at Drake Stadium. He also will compete in that event at Drake — with three new teammates — but he can focus more on his individual events this season.
"Last year we were more focused on the four-by-4(00)," he said. "This year, I thought I'd give it a try. Coach said that I could do decent."
He did better than decent from the start. While he still needs work in the technical aspects of the race, Banker's experience in the open 400 has benefited him well in the hurdles event.