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May 28, 2023

On track, Breger fast and furious

When Jack Breger competed in the St. Francis Invitational on March 17, the soon-to-be San Benito High graduate had no idea how much his performance that day would alter his future. Against many of the Central Coast Section’s best sprinters, Breger pulled away from the field to win the 100-meter dash in a personal-record 10.75 seconds— a time that stood up as the section’s fastest of the season.

It was a magnificent performance that showcased Breger’s supreme talent and eventually led to Breger receiving a scholarship to compete in track and field at Sacramento State University. Because Breger has only completed 1-½ years of track and field—he played volleyball as a freshman and sophomore and had his senior track season cut short due to injury—there’s no telling how fast or far Breger can go.

The scary thing is, Breger has only scratched the surface of his enormous athletic potential.

“The (Sacramento State) jumps coach said I have a body type similar to one of their jumpers who was a senior this year, and he jumped 25-4 (in the long jump) this season,” Breger said. “Coach said I have the body type and running form to do exactly what needs to be done at the college level to go along with potential. That is super exciting to hear because he produces a lot of great long jumpers and triple jumpers.”

That’s right: Breger isn’t just a speed demon; in fact, the long and triple jump could end up being his best events in college. Or it could be the 100. Or the 200. Breger has PRs of 22.81 seconds in the 200 and 22 feet, 7 inches in the long jump. Even though Breger never competed in the triple jump in his injury-shortened senior season, he did post a mark of 39-2 ½ in his first-ever competition in March of his junior year.

Had Breger not gotten injured this season—he suffered a hamstring tear about a third of the way into the season—he most likely would’ve been the odds-on favorite to win the 100 in the CCS Championships. The disappointment of not being able to finish out the season was softened by the fact that it didn’t cost Breger an opportunity to run for a Division I program.

That was made possible by his blazing performance at the St. Francis Invitational, which Breger still looks back at now in wonderment. For one, conditions that day weren’t exactly conducive for a sprinter, as it was cold, damp and windy. However, Breger got in a great warm-up before heading to the starting line and his position in Lane Four.

Breger didn’t have a great start out of the blocks—“My start was actually terrible,” he said—but with about 40 meters remaining, Breger literally hit another gear and pulled away from runner-up finisher Nikolas Trofort, who finished in 10.89. Trofort, incidentally, went on to win the 100 and 200 in the CCS Championships.

Since Breger was unable to see his time right away, he had no idea of how fast he had just gone.

“I walked over to the practice field to get my clothes and I remember another kid who was in the race from LA who said, ‘Oh, you’re the guy who won and ran 10.75, right?’ I’m like, ‘What? That just can’t be right,” Breger said. “And sure enough 10 minutes later the announcer calls my name with the winning time of 10.75, and I kind of just stood there in shock. (Twin sister) Annie was warming up for her jumps competition and ran over and gave me a big hug. That was a special moment for sure.”

It was only the third—and what turned out to be his last—100 meter race of the season.

“The first 100 I ran was hand timed, so there was no actual time,” he said. “The second one was on our home dirt track, so you’re not going to get your best time. This was basically the only 100 time I had on paper. It was a little bit of luck that I ran such a good time because I ended up getting hurt and needed that time for colleges to recognize me.”

Breger took a proactive approach and contacted Sacramento State and several other colleges in August 2017. The Sacramento State coaches got back to him right away, and they stayed in touch all the way to the beginning of the high school track and field season. But things didn’t start heating up until Breger ran the 10.75. After taking a visit to Sacramento State, Breger knew it was the place for him.

He ended up signing his letter of intent on April 20 before doing a ceremonial signing at the high school on May 31. Knowing things could get emotional during a ceremonial signing in which his friends, family members, coaches and teammates were going to be in attendance, Breger purposely prepared a short speech because “I didn’t want to be up there crying in front of everyone.”

The high level athlete always prepares, and Breger was no doubt thinking ahead when it came time to the ceremonial signing.

“I figured it might get emotional because (athletic director) Tod (Thatcher) and coach (Ryan) Shorey said a few words before Principal (Adrian) Ramirez—whom I had a close relationship before he was principal—said something,” he said.

Breger can’t wait for his college career to begin. Since Breger is a relative newcomer to the sport, he knows there are still plenty of technical and mechanical things to improve, and his best performances are still ahead of him. Breger said he’s confident Sacramento State jumps coach Eric Fremd and sprints coach Kimberly Graham-Miller will help him maximize his potential.

“Coach Fremd is a nationally-recognized coach, so working with him is going to be awesome,” Breger said. “When I took my visit there, I loved everything about it. What stood out to me most was the team and family atmosphere environment. Even though track and field is an individual sport, what we do affects the team. It makes it more enjoyable to compete and better yourself when you’re a part of a team and everyone wants to see you do your best.”

Breger points to his start in the 100 in the St. Francis Invitational as an area where his form and technique were off.

“My legs were going in and out, and it looks like it was my first time running ever,” he said. “There is video of it, and I can’t believe my form looked like that.”

With Annie headed to UC Davis, the Breger twins won’t be far apart. Annie and Jack’s older sister, Katherine, predicted this all along years ago, and her statement proved prescient.

“She’s always been saying it, and I’m glad it worked out that way,” Jack said.

Emanuel Lee
Emanuel Lee is the sports editor of the Los Gatan, Gilroy Dispatch, Hollister Free Lance and Morgan Hill Times. An American High and University of Kentucky alumnus, he primarily covers high school athletics, Gavilan College, various youth sports in south Santa Clara/San Benito counties and pro sports on occasion. Two decades of journalism experience and recipient of several writing awards from the California News Publishers Association. With the Weeklys/NewSVMedia group since 2013. Emanuel has run eight marathons with a PR of 3:13.40 (7:24 mile pace), counts himself as a devoted follower of Jesus Christ and loves spending time with his wife and their two lovely daughters, Evangeline and Eliza. Coaches, athletic directors and parents are encouraged to report scores to [email protected].

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