New beginning: Banach gets back in the blocks

January 09, 1994|By Steven Kivinski | Steven Kivinski,Contributing Writer

A hamstring injury can be agonizingly painful to even the most sedentary individual, but when it affects the health of a sprinter, the discomfort can spread beyond the physical.

Perry Hall junior Jim Banach knows that all too well.

The 5-foot-7, 138-pounder was running for the Ed Waters Track zTC Club last summer and winning his 100-meter heat at the East Coast Invitational in Fairfax, Va., when he felt a sharp pain in his leg.

He immediately knew what it was, but little did he know how irksome things would become in the next five months. Even the most routine activities, such as sitting in homeroom at school and listening to the morning announcements, became an annoyance.

"I would have to sit there and hear how well my friends were doing in different sports and I couldn't even run," said Banach, an All-Metro choice last spring after winning the county and region titles in the 100 and finishing third in the 4A state meet. "It was really eating away at me because I was really starting to peak when I got hurt."

In the days prior to his injury, Banach took first in the 100 and third in the 200 at the Amateur Athletic Union regionals in Newport News, Va., and teamed up with Ed Waters Track Club teammates Jevon Harris, Royston Little and Derrick Smith to win the 400 relay at the Region III meet of the U.S. Track and Field Association.

In addition, his time of 10.32 seconds in the 100 at the U.S. Track and Field regionals last June was among the nation's top times for the 15-16 age group.

Banach may not be back to his top-notch form, but he has returned to the starting blocks and Perry Hall coach Jerry Martin couldn't be happier.

"He's finally beginning to look like his old self," said Martin. "Track is a great relief for him and he seems most comfortable when he is running and active."

He sure looked comfortable at last month's Pangaea International Track and Field Meet where he won the gold medal in the 55 dash.

"That was the first time I really pushed myself," said Banach. "Up until then I was basically just striding and working on my form. I think I just got sick of seeing people in front of me and I just kicked it in."

Banach's ability to "kick it in" was the first thing Mervo coach Ron Neal noticed about him.

"The first time I saw Jim run was indoors last year and as soon as I saw him I said he is legit," said Neal, Ed Waters sprinting coach. "The more I've seen him run, the more I'm convinced that he can run with anybody. He ran against some of best in the nation [last] summer and he more than held his own.

"He gets out of the blocks well and he gets into his running position quicker than anyone else. It takes a lot of strength to come out of the block and get into your running form, but he has the strength to do it."

And the desire.

"He relentlessly drives right for the tape," said Ed Waters head coach Freddie Hendricks. "He is a pure sprinter."

Banach boasts the metro area's best time (6.3) in the 55 dash and is a member of the Gators' 800 sprint relay team that has recorded the area's fourth-best time of 1:40.7.

"I kept telling myself when I was injured that it's not always going to be like this," said Banach. "Sometimes it was tough to believe that, but everything seems to be working out.

"I'm stretching more than ever now and right now I'm just trying to get my mind and body back on track. I feel like my season is just beginning."

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