Congratulations to the Post’s Athlete of the Week for March 21-26, Benjamin’s Cole Grande!
Oxbridge softball pitcher Luna Curran won 44.63% in a close race with the junior, who won 49.68% of the vote for his 800m medley and 4×200 wins at the King’s Academy Relay Festival and tied the school record for winning the 100m (10.83) and 200m (22.54) in Benjamin’s home meet.
Grande happened to share that best 100m with former Bucs football star and University of Florida cornerback Kaiir Elam, who ran a 4.39-second 40-yard sprint in the NFL Draft. Combine in March.
“I love Kaiir, but Cole is going to break the record soon,” Benjamin Boys athletics coach Barrett Saunders said.
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Grande said it was “pretty cool” to race alongside “one of the best, if not the best, athlete that came out of Benjamin.”
Beating Elam has been a goal for Grande since he started racing on the track last season.
“Now that I’m a little closer, it’s encouraging to know that my training and hard work has paid off,” Grande said.
Despite being a “baby in the sport,” Grande has embraced a “college mindset” when it comes to track and is only now beginning to tap into his potential, according to Saunders.
Saunders noted all the “little things” Grande does to be successful, including hitting the weight room, eating well and doing extra exercise before and after training, transforming her body into that of a regular medalist.
“Cole takes training better than any athlete I’ve ever coached. Whatever I want him to do, he tries his best to do it,” Saunders said. “For a coach, this is the best quality an athlete can have.”
Grande’s coach reminisced about the athlete’s rookie year, which featured about four or five gold medals in the 100m despite being the last halfway through.
“I’ve never seen a high school kid do that so many times. I’m glad we don’t have that problem anymore,” Saunders laughed.
With a coach like Saunders who ran track and field at Kansas and a father who played collegiate lacrosse, Grande says he was groomed to have the mindset of a Division I competitor.
Only a junior, Grande doesn’t have any big schools in mind at the moment, but plans to “keep pushing himself” on and off the track to see where his performances take him in the future.
“Cole is the leader of our team. He’s not very vocal, but he leads by example and all the other kids respect him because they know he works hard,” Saunders said.