TRACK: Bemidji’s Hendrickson continues progression
BEMIDJI – When Elias Hendrickson was a sophomore, his early-season time in the 800 was 2 minutes, 19 seconds. Last spring he opened the track and field season completing the event in 2:08.
Saturday at the season-opening Lions Invitational at Bemidji State’s Gillett Recreation and Fitness Center, Hendrickson dominated the race. His time of 2:00.43 was more than 12 seconds ahead of the runner-up and gave notice that this year could be something special.
“To start a year at 2-minutes flat is very nice,” said Bemidji High School distance running coach Ryan Aylesworth. “When you run that well at the start of a season it shows how the work you put in during the offseason has helped.”
Hendrickson is a two-time participant at the state track and field meet and also competed at last fall’s cross country meet.
In the spring of 2011 he was the alternate on Bemidji’s state championship 4x800 relay team and last year Hendrickson helped the Lumberjacks finish ninth in the relay at the state meet.
“I was happy with running 2 minutes on Saturday,” Hendrickson said. “That was my goal and I’m happy that I achieved it.”
Aylesworth wasn’t surprised Hendrickson began the year with such a fast time. The coach was aware of the work the senior put in during the winter and knows that hard work always pays dividends.
“Elias is the blueprint other kids can follow,” Aylesworth said. “He was not a prodigy. He was not a super human runner as a freshman or sophomore. He was a good runner but not outstanding. But he has turned himself into a quality runner.”
Hendrickson’s off season regimen included sprint workouts and Olympic lift training at the school weight room.
“My track progression has been a result of working more and working harder,” Hendrickson said. “Each year I have enjoyed track more and more and that has helped me train harder.”
The 800 is considered one of the more difficult races in track because it falls somewhere between being a sprint and a distance race.
“I think of the 800 as partially a sprint but at the same time you have to develop a pace,” Hendrickson said. “It’s not exactly an easy race but I like the challenge of running it.”
Hendrickson’s long-range plan this year is to run at the state meet and Aylesworth believes that the senior has a legitimate shot at accomplishing that goal.
“Last year Elias finished fourth in the 800 at the section meet and the top three runners all graduated,” Aylesworth said. “He ran 1:58.2, and that was after he anchored the 4x800 relay.
“Beginning the season at 2-flat is great but what matters is the time at the end of the season,” Aylesworth continued. “Elias needs to continue to progress this year and we believe that he will.”
“I don’t know how fast I can go this year,” Hendrickson said. “I would like to break the school record (1:54) and I would like to get to state (in the 800) and help get the relay team back to state.
“From being at state the past two years I have learned that the accomplishment and satisfaction of being there is worth all of the hard work it takes to get there.”