When Brooke Bensche decided to try track during her freshman year at Scarsdale High School, it was mostly because her sister, who also had a background in gymnastics, had done it and found success. Like Kendall, who just finished her freshman year at Harvard, Brooke gave up gymnastics in favor of track and has become one of the best high jumpers in the state, having made her third New York State championship meet this spring.
At states last weekend, Bensche, now a junior, finished ninth in Division 1 with a jump of 5 feet, 2 inches. Liliana Klemanski of Cicero-North Syracuse was the D1 state champ at 5-6, while Sharde Johnson of Emma Willard took home the D2 title at 5-7.
Although states did not go as well as she had hoped, it was still an incredible experience for Bensche. In the winter, states was just a two-hour drive, but for spring she had to go up early Friday to Cicero-North Syracuse High School and spend the night in a hotel. At states in the winter, Bensche found the shorter drive made it feel like less of an event, at which she tends to do better. This time around she found it was really a different experience, being alone with the competition for more than 24 hours. She also noted that sometimes she lets the magnitude of an event psych her out.
On such a big stage, the pressure and stakes of the meet get built up. Bensche was able to maintain a calm demeanor, but definitely had her doubts about the competition. Although Bensche had the same height as five other girls in D1, they placed higher for clearing the bar on their first and second attempts. Bensche didn’t clear 5-2 until her third and final attempt.
“My 5-4 attempts were very close so I am not too discouraged,” Bensche said. “I brushed the bar on my last two attempts, and that gives me confidence going into nationals this Sunday in Greensboro, North Carolina.”
The New Balance Nationals take place June 15 to 17 at Aggie Stadium, home of the North Carolina A&T State University Aggies football team and the Irwin Belk Track.
Scarsdale head coach Richard Clark knows how much potential Bensche has, so he’s hoping to see her have a breakout senior season. Clark feels Bensche has been working extremely hard for the opportunity to compete on such a big stage like states.
“I think she has grown into her own person,” Clark said. “She was under the shadow of her sister, who was also an excellent high jumper last year, but she is now her own person… now that she is out of the shadow of her sister and into the spotlight.”
Bensche plans to continue with track and field in college. “I am very excited for next season, because hopefully by then I will be accepted to college, and the pressure to perform at each and every meet will be lifted,” Bensche said. “I think overall I had a strong two seasons and am in a good place to improve upon more next year.”