Coach casts track hopes on hoopsters
Jefferson boys are being wooed for a stab at another title
Larry Warren is hoping to put Jefferson High track and field on the same path as the school's boys basketball program by being an annual contender for a state championship.
And he's talking to basketball players about helping.
'The basketball players are some of the best athletes at Jefferson, so we're trying to get them to come out,' says Warren, the Democrats' new boys and girls track coach. 'If we can get them out, that will only have a positive effect on the program.'
Warren, 46, is such a positive thinker that he believes Jefferson has the potential to win the state title this year.
'If we get the right people out and put them in the right position, we have a chance,' he says. 'That's our ultimate goal.'
The Demos are starting with a solid nucleus for a state championship team: Three-quarters of the relay team that won the 4x100-meter state title last year are returning. Seniors Derrick Deloney, Tracy Harrell and T.R. Smith are hoping to defend their relay title and perform well in the sprint events.
'I would like to get down to 10.5 (seconds) by state,' says Harrell, who would set a state meet record with that time. 'We're all working hard to lower our times a lot.'
Warren has years of age-group coaching experience in North and Northeast Portland, the last six with the Inner City Steppers. The club team has helped the careers of many Portland athletes, including former Benson runners Deborah Jones and Brandi Probasco-Canda and ex-Lincoln runner Mike McGrath.
Warren's energy has translated well to Jefferson. He says more than 40 boys and girls will be on the team when spring break ends.
'There's more people on the team this year, and that does make it more fun,' says Harrell, who plans to play football this fall for Paul Quinn College, an NAIA school in Dallas. 'We have people we can root for when we go to a meet. Last year, we went to state with one mission, to win the relay. This year, we might actually have other people to follow. That'll be fun.'
Jefferson's girls haven't won the city title since 1987 and haven't captured the state title since 1984. The boys won both titles in 1963 and have been shut out since then.
Warren sees Harrell, Smith and Deloney scoring in the 100, 200 and 400 as the key to winning at state. And he's recruiting basketball players to help in field events such as the high jump, long jump and triple jump.
Warren uses the experience of local hoop luminary Terrell Brandon as part of the recruiting pitch. Brandon ran track at Grant and was part of the team that won the state championship in 1988, his senior year.
'Competing in track didn't hurt Terrell Brandon,' Warren says. 'It only added to his quickness.'