Before Josh Banderas became known as a 2013 Nebraska football recruit, he was picking off Junior Olympic track records set by former Huskers.
The Lincoln Southwest junior smiled when reflecting on those achievements Saturday after he won the Class A 110-meter high hurdles at the state meet.
It was the first state high school title for Banderas, who finished third in 2011. Banderas said after that race that he told his coach he wouldn’t lose again.
“I’m excited because this is what I wanted,” Banderas said. “It’s what I trained for all year. I didn’t get out as good as I did in the prelims, but I finished strong and I was happy with that.”
Banderas had to work all the way through the last hurdle to edge Bellevue West senior Enrique Alvarez by 0.05 seconds with a winning time of 14.53. After crossing the finish line, the NU linebacker recruit “threw the bones” for Husker fans watching the race at Burke Stadium.
“It’s the first thing that came to my mind,” he said.
Banderas, son of former Husker tight end Tom Banderas, has been running the hurdles since age 10. In 2007, he replaced former Husker and current Washington Redskins receiver Niles Paul as the Nebraska Association record-holder in the midget boys 80 hurdles.
Two years later, Banderas equaled the youth boys 100 hurdles record of 14.22 first run in 1989 by Scott Frost of Wood River. Frost quarterbacked the Huskers’ 1997 national championship team, played defensive back in the NFL and is an assistant at Oregon.
“My dad and I kept joking, ‘If I keep getting these records of other Huskers, maybe I can be one someday,’” Banderas said. “I’m in the Husker Nation now. I’m ready to go.”
Banderas also finished second in the Class A 300 hurdles to Millard South senior Alexander Moreland, who won the all-class gold in 38.62.
Track isn’t on Banderas’s program this summer: His schedule is already full of football activities. But he’s looking forward to defending his Class A hurdles title next year and working to improve in his newest event, the discus.
“I started doing that last year, and I got tired of going to meets and getting 10th place,” he said. “So I’ve just concentrated on my two hurdles races, and next year my main focus will be on the discus and getting better in the hurdles.”
Having his college plans secured also makes it easier for Banderas to enjoy his remaining time as a track and field athlete.
After visiting Vanderbilt and Iowa State, Banderas said the decision to become a Husker was much simpler.
“I told my dad, ‘Maybe I can go to this place when I got back from those visits,’” he said. “But after thinking about it, and once I got all of the excitement and pampering out of my system, I realized there’s no better place I can play.”
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