There are two words used to describe Drew Pranka when it comes to track and field — he’s daring and versatile.
He ran, he hurdled and he pole vaulted with the best of them.
He qualified for the Class 2A state competition in two individual events, medaling in one, and topped the BCR Honor Roll in three individual events. He also anchored the Tigers’ top Honor Roll efforts in the 4×100 and 4×200 relays.
Put it all together and Pranka is the 2015 BCR Male Track and Field Athlete of the Year.
“We have been blessed to have a lot of versatile athletes over the years, but I would probably put him at the top of the list. He is just a great athlete,” PHS coach Dan Foes said.
His daring side comes with the events he competes in. While clearing a hurdle brings a bit of courage, Pranka’s favorite event is pole vault, and the degree of daring adventure it brings.
“It’s just fun to do. You’re just flinging yourself into the air and hoping you get over the bar,” he said. “It is also not my best event, it just turned out to be the one that was the most fun. Both hurdles and vault require a lot of confidence to do, you have to trust yourself and your body in order to get over the hurdles and the bar. You have to practice them enough that it just become second nature.”
Pranka shared top BCR Honor Roll honors in the pole vault at 11-9 with Bureau Valley sophomore Hunter Schoff, a 1A state qualifier.
By medal count, Pranka’s best event is the 300 intermediate hurdles, in which he placed seventh in Class 2A with a season best 39.1, an improvement of 1.6 seconds from a year ago. His time is also a school record.
“He ran outstanding times in both (hurdles), but he shattered the school record in the 300 IH,” Foes said.
Pranka said he was very happy to reset the school record and the medal was a “great way to close out the season and my career.”
Foes said it’s too bad he couldn’t put Pranka in more than four events each meet.
“Drew had an outstanding season in his senior season, capping off a wonderful career. It was always fun to watch him perform,” Foes said. “Drew was an athlete that everyone wants on their team, we could truly put him in any event and he could excel. He was always up for any challenge. I feel it was this attitude that made him a great competitor.”
Recently, Pranka competed in the Senior Spotlight Meet in Dubuque, Iowa, representing Team Illinois against other Midwestern states. He took part in Team Illinois’ winning effort in the 110 hurdle shuttle and placed fourth individually in the 400 hurdles.
Next year, Pranka, who also medaled in state wrestling competition, will compete in track and field for Washington and Lee University in Lexington, Va. He anticipates continuing competing in the vault and hurdles and a relay at some time.
“I’m very excited to go out to W&L. It should be very exciting and fun to move forward,” Pranka said.
Foes know he will be up for the challenge.
“Drew is a great kid with a easy going and positive attitude on life. He is going to be excellent at anything he chooses to do in life,” Foes said.