After playing two years of volleyball, Jack Breger was ready for a change. The San Benito High junior decided to compete for the track and field team this spring, focusing on the jumping events because of his impressive vertical leap. Turns out the 6-foot-1, 170-pound Breger has some serious talent as one of the fastest prep athletes in the Central Coast Section.
Breger proved that at last Saturday’s CCS Top 8 Classic at Los Gatos High, clocking a personal-best 11.04 seconds in the 100-meter dash to take eighth place in a field that featured most of the runners who will be vying for the title at the CCS Championships in late May.
“I obviously didn’t know my first year of track would turn out this good,” said Breger, who also runs the anchor leg of the Balers’ 4×100 relay team that finished in seventh at the Top 8 Classic. “Once I ran a 11.33 early in the season, I figured the 100 would be my forte.”
That’s exactly how Breger’s season has unfolded, as he has steadily marched up the rankings to position himself for a potential Monterey Bay League title and make the CCS Finals appearance. Despite never competing on the high school track team season until this year, Breger has exploded onto the scene.
Breger has been downright consistent with his times, clocking an 11.44 in the season-opening Willow Glen Invitational on March 4. Since then, Breger has run times of 11.49, 11.27, 11.68, 11.33, 11.15, 11.21 and his PR of 11.04. The scary thing? Breger still knows he can drop his time considerably.
At the Top 8 Classic, Breger felt like his start out of the blocks was one of his best of the season. However, he still trailed a couple of other sprinters in the first 40 meters.
“My top end speed is what has kept me in races,” he said. “I start to catch up to the top guys with about 40 to 50 meters left. It’s going to take a lot of practice with the blocks to get faster. Over the summer I’ll be focusing on weight training, which will help me be more explosive from the start.”
Breger is mindful of his form, knowing it serves a vital purpose in his success. In a dual meet against Palma on April 5, Breger ran an 11.33, fading at the finish to take second place.
“When my form breaks down, my arms go a bit out of control and crazy,” he said. “My knees won’t go as high, and I’m thinking about it too much. I always know during the race when something is out of whack.”
Breger feels he can run in the 10.9 range within the next month, which would put him in contention for a top five finish in the CCS Championships. He’s also a part of the 4×100 relay team along with Johnny Gonzalez and Adam Mendoza, with the second leg of the team rotating between a couple of different runners this season.
Breger said the team’s 43.76 time at the Top 8 Classic could’ve been a lot faster had the team’s exchanges been smoother, a recurring problem.
“It’s been tough sometimes with the exchanges,” Breger said. “Every one of us has had a blunder with the handoff at some point this year.”
Breger always knew he possessed speed, excelling in track meets from the fourth to the seventh grade at Southside School. However, Breger started to take a liking for volleyball in the eighth grade, a somewhat natural transition considering he comes from a volleyball family.
Breger’s fraternal twin, Annie, is a standout middle blocker on the San Benito girls team, and their dad, Sam, played at Pepperdine and a year professionally in Italy. Annie is also a standout on the track and field team, having qualified for the CCS Finals in the triple jump last year.
With the boys volleyball team struggling in the last three years, Jack felt the timing to join the track and field team—which is always in contention for a league title—was just right.
“Volleyball was cool, but I thought I might as well give track a try—and look what happened,” he said. “A lot of it (trying out for track) was the success of my sister and just knowing how good the team would be.”
Breger has added to the Balers’ success, with the boys team aiming to win the MBL title a year after it finished second. Before the gun goes off, Breger focuses on keeping his form. Then he envisions himself crossing the finish line first. The latter has turned into reality this season, with more potential firsts looming.