Versatile General: Banks does it all in track and field for Stonewall

Stonewall's Wade Banks stretches as he competes in the long jump during the Conference 44 Track & Field Championships Monday in Quicksburg. Rich Cooley/Daily

QUICKSBURG –Wade Banks can do it all in track and field, and this season he will be doing a little bit of everything.

The Stonewall Jackson senior plans on participating in eight different events. Banks said he’s learned to handle having to do so many events in one meet.

“I guess over the years I’ve gotten used to it,” Banks said. “I don’t really realize what’s happening any more. I just kind of go with the flow.”

Banks said he plans on doing all five field events this year — high jump, long jump, triple jump, discus and shot put. He will continue to do the 110 and 300 hurdles, which are his two strongest events, and he might be adding either the 100-meter dash or 200-meter dash. He also could be in the 4×400-meter relay, if they can find enough boys to run in that event.

Last year, Banks finished second in the 110 hurdles at the Class 1 state championships and third in the 300 hurdles.

“I want to win in both the hurdles this year in the state competition,” Banks said. “I want to qualify for states in all my jumping events. I also want to make regionals in the throwing events.”

Last year he made a huge jump in his track abilities and Banks said that mostly came from being more dedicated in the weight room.

He said it also helped that he changed his diet.

“I don’t eat a lot of sugar,” Banks said. “I eat more vegetables. It was kind of tough at first, but after a while I just got used to coming home and eating carrots instead of like trail mix with M&M’s. I’m starting to feel better too.”

Last year was the first year he did the discus and the shot put, and now this season he’s adding the triple jump and possibly one of the sprints to his track workload.

While Banks enjoys doing all the events, his first love is still the hurdles.

“It’s just different,” Banks said of hurdles. “It combines flexibility and agility and I just like it. I feel like when I talk to other hurdlers we’re a little bit closer than the other high jumpers or the other throwers, it’s a closer bond.”

Banks said that he’s worked hard on reducing the number of steps it takes him to get to the first hurdle. He’s had trouble with slow starts in the past and believes fewer steps will help him  get off to better starts.

The highlight of Banks’ season last year was being part of the state champion 4×400 relay team. He, along with Tyler Patton, Mark Keith and Kalean Sorrells won the 4×400 relay state title in a time of 3:33.32, by just 0.54 seconds over Cumberland.

Banks said it’s a memory he hasn’t forgotten.

“At first I saw Tyler (Patton) run past the line and it didn’t kick in (my head that we had won),” Banks said. “We had been winning all season and then I realized this is states and were the top 4×4 in the state. It felt good. It felt good to get the win for (Stonewall coach Dick) Krol because I know that’s his favorite event.”

Patton, Keith and Sorrells all graduated last year, which has left the Generals searching for new athletes to run in the event.

Krol said Banks is a great role model and leader for the team this season.

“He’s a leader, but in a different way,” Krol said. “He’s not a rah-rah, jump up and down type of guy. But when you watch him in practice you have to be impressed. He doesn’t loaf. He doesn’t play around. He doesn’t socialize. He’s there when he’s supposed to be there, does what he’s supposed to do, smiles while he’s doing it and never complains. And you can’t ask for a better kid than that in track.”

Banks said that he plans to attend and run track and field at Eastern Mennonite University next year.

For this season, Banks said he just wants to do keep making strides and improving.

“The pressure’s there, but I just want to do better than last year,” he said. “And hopefully get a record and win some state titles.”