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CV’s Whitley excels in 3 sports, but track is No. 1

Three-sport athlete Brad Whitley is always on the run, hoping to break the 49-second barrier in the 400 this season. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)
Three-sport athlete Brad Whitley is always on the run, hoping to break the 49-second barrier in the 400 this season. (Colin Mulvany / The Spokesman-Review)

Getting 15 minutes from Brad Whitley to sit in the sun and talk about his goals for the track season seemed easy.

“Lucky” might be the more accurate description.

It’s hard to believe the Central Valley senior had 15 minutes to spare.

Whitley played football and basketball for the Bears in addition to running track.

The demands on three-sport athletes have been well-documented and it doesn’t take much imagination to understand that someone who is a captain in all three sports has more time-consuming responsibilities.

“I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Whitley said. “I need to do something.”

What, studying isn’t enough? He certainly isn’t a slouch in the classroom or he wouldn’t have visited Columbia, Princeton and Yale before deciding the distance and financial burden were too much, despite his dream of doing something in the medical profession.

Then there are the demands within the sport, not including summer camps, weight-lifting sessions or team bonding.

Whitley is, according to CV football coach Rick Giampietri, “Mr. Everything.”

An All-Greater Spokane League defensive back, Whitley was a running back and wide receiver on offense and returned punts for three years and kickoffs for two.

Demanding for an athlete who doesn’t have much more than 150 pounds on his 5-foot-11 frame, which is pretty short for a starting guard on a GSL basketball team.

“He’s an ironman,” track coach Chuck Bowden said.

Whitley placed third in the State 4A 800 meters (1 minute, 54.41 seconds) last year and anchored a champion 1,600 relay (3:20.45) but Bowden said if needed, Whitley could high jump, triple jump, run hurdles, run the 1,600, or, well, you get the picture.

“He’s incredible,” Bowden said. “He’s the right combination between competitive and humble. Since his freshman year he’s put his nose in every hard workout and never backed off from anything.”

Whitley credits that to the role models he had as a freshman, when he ran the second leg on the sixth-place 1,600 relay team.

“They helped me mentally become more of a runner,” he said. “Everyone has the same pain when we run the 400 and 800, but it’s about breaking through that mentally. … Because I went to state with them, I really saw what it was like to be a part of CV’s track team.”

In those days he was mostly a 400 runner, although he had ran a few 800s dating back to junior high.

“I realized if I could carry over my stamina until about 600 meters, 500 meters, I could use my sprinter’s speed that a lot of distance runners don’t have to finish out a race,” he said. “My goal is to be in the 1:51 range and be district, regional and state champion.”

Although it is unlikely Whitley would double in the 400 for the postseason, he would like to run the one-lap race in under 49 seconds. He also thinks the Bears could field a dangerous 4x4 relay team if everyone bought into the pain-for-gain strategy he follows.

If he reaches some of those goals, his future could be set.

“One reason I didn’t sign early is I didn’t want to stop talking to any more colleges,” he said. “It’s an exciting time for anybody getting recruited.”

He experienced some of that during football but in the end, track won his heart.

“When I visited some coaches for football and I compared them to track coaches, I felt like (in track) we were more excited about what we were doing,” Whitley said. “Coach Bowden is one of my favorite coaches because he is so enthusiastic about what he does…. Not saying that Coach G or (basketball) Coach (Rick) Sloan aren’t enthusiastic, but I think the way Bowden and I talk and interact throughout school, not only to each other but to teammates and other coaches, we both like what we’re doing. The college coaches have that same energy.

“And my size.”

He expects some adjustment when he quits doing three sports year-round to do track year-round.

“I like changing it up,” he said. “I like the camaraderie that football builds. I’m going to miss that the most.

“It’s going to be challenging not to change it up, but with the enthusiasm that college adds, that’s what’s going to make it fun. Enthusiasm like Coach Bowden’s at the college level, the energy that people bring, that’s going to be the most fun. And the teammates from all over, I love getting to know different people.”

As long as he can find the time.