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The Drill: Jonathan Banegas anxious to keep improving in soccer

Worthington's Jonathan Banegas led the state in boys soccer scoring last year, but he's not going to rest on his laurels

Worthington Trojans boys soccer player Jonathan Banegas took the state by storm last year, but he's determined to keep improving.
Worthington Trojans boys soccer player Jonathan Banegas took the state by storm last year, but he's determined to keep improving.
Tim Middagh / The Globe
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WORTHINGTON -- Three years ago Jonathan Banegas was just trying to get on the field.

Both the Worthington girls and boys soccer teams had reasons to feel good about themselves Friday night

Now, as a junior with the Worthington Trojans boys soccer team, he is the defending state prep leader in goals scored in a season on a program that participated in the 2021 state tournament.

Banegas has great feet, exceptional speed, and an usually gifted awareness on the soccer field. He scored 43 regular season goals last year as a sophomore because of his God-given abilities plus an uncanny ability to see his opportunities quickly and know how to take advantage of them.

He had to wait his turn, however. As an eighth-grader he chafed at having to be on the bench while his older teammates got to play. He even thought about quitting, in fact. Thank goodness he didn’t, because two years later he accomplished an incredible personal feat that made his entire team proud.

The 5-7 Banegas readily acknowledges his teammates when he looks back on 2021.

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“”I feel like I had the right teammates around me to set me up to succeed,” he recalled recently. “I think it was a surprise (to lead the state). I came in the season with, like nine goals. To shoot up to, like 43, was a pretty surreal moment.”

What do you do for an encore when you’ve led the state in goals as a sophomore? You become more of a leader, of course.

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Both Banegas and his head coach, Juan Flores, discussed at the beginning of the 2022 campaign that the prolific scorer now needs to become more of a team leader. Banegas believes he’s up to the task, and this is an especially good time for Worthington’s more accomplished soccer players -- and Banegas is certainly one of those -- to step up on a 2023 team that lost several fine seniors to graduation.

The Trojans aren’t quite the slam-dunk that they were a year ago, when they completed an undefeated regular season en route to the state tourney. But Banegas doesn’t want to settle for anything less.

“I feel like our team could end up being really good if they push themselves to their limit. Anything’s possible when you do that,” said the super junior.

The Globe has chosen Jonathan Banegas as this week’s Drill subject. You can see a video of Jonathan online at www.dglobe.com . Here is a sample of the interview:

QUESTION: What is the typical plan when you see a chance for you to score a goal?

ANSWER: “When I see a scoring opportunity, I see an opening, and I just put all my focus on how I can kick the ball instead of where it’s gonna go. At times, I do feel like I can outrun people for the ball because I have more of an aggressive approach instead of taking it lightly. So I use more body. I’d say my other good qualities would be my passing, and my set pieces are pretty good, too.”

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QUESTION: What’s the best advice you’ve ever taken as an athlete?

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ANSWER: “My best advice is never give up. ‘Cuz I remember in eighth grade I wouldn’t really play. I was like on the verge of quitting ‘cuz I was not playing, I was just practicing. And that really gave me a turning moment. It was good that I didn’t quit, that I had my mom and some coaches to help me push through that experience. To help me grow from it.”

QUESTION: Tell us something about you that most people don’t know.

ANSWER: “I like to look into, like, the stock market and see how it moves. And you can make a lot of money just by knowing when to pull out and when to go in. Because I’ve seen a lot of people -- because I’ve seen a lot of people make hundreds of thousands in, like, a month. It’s outrageous. I’ve been studying the stock market so, hopefully, after high school I can at least have some experience in something I actually enjoy.”

Doug Wolter joined the Worthington Globe in December of 1983 as a sports reporter. He later became sports editor, and then news editor and managing editor. In 2006 he moved to Mankato with his wife, Sandy, and served as an editor at the Mankato Free Press. In 2013 he and Sandy returned to Worthington to take up the job of sports editor at The Globe, and they have been in Worthington since.

Doug can be reached at dwolter@dglobe.com.
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