Freshman Trainor's Winning Kick Isn't Another Fish Story

Times Staff Writer

While others were wondering whether freshman Kendall Trainor would kick the winning field goal in Sunday night's Holiday Bowl, Trainor had his thoughts focused elsewhere.

"I was thinking about bass fishing on the pond with one of my best friends back home," he said. "I remembered the time we caught too many fish to take home. That's all I was thinking about. If you start thinking about the kick, the pressure can get to you."

As it turned out, Trainor will have a whale of a story to tell the bass fishermen in Arkansas. His 37-yard field goal with 21 seconds remaining provided Arkansas with its 18-17 win over Arizona State.

In retrospect, Trainor had another bass fishing story to parallel with his football success.

Four days before the Holiday Bowl, Trainor was discussing his recent kicking slump with an Arkansas alumnus. Before long, they were trading bass fishing stories instead of talking about why Trainor had missed his last four attempts of the regular season.

"Once we started talking about fishing during practice, I started hitting the ball well," Trainor said. "I'm a real technical kicker and was having problems with my form. When I stopped worrying, that's when I started kicking well."

While Trainor was discussing bass fishing after the Holiday Bowl, he mentioned Kevin McReynolds, an Arkansas alumnus and Padre center fielder. Though Trainor has never met McReynolds, he said he would like to go bass fishing with him sometime.

If they ever get together, Trainor could tell about the 5 3/4-pound bass he caught back home--or the winning field goal he kicked against Arizona State in McReynolds' home baseball stadium.

"This was just as good as landing a big hog bass--maybe even better," Trainor said. "I think this kick is even bigger because it will bring recognition to our college."

Before Trainor's winning kick, Arkansas drove down the field without any timeouts remaining. When the Razorbacks had a fourth and two at the Arizona State 19, their field goal unit hurried on to the field.

Arizona State immediately called timeout.

When Trainor went to the sideline, Coach Ken Hatfield told a story about the time he was coaching Air Force against Notre Dame in a similar situation. After Notre Dame had called timeout, Air Force's kicker made an extra point that won the game, 23-22.

Hatfield told Trainor to go do the same thing against Arizona State.

"I remember him telling me something about their kicker against Notre Dame," Trainor said. "He didn't even tell me whether the kicker made it."

It was just as well that Arkansas personnel did not talk extensively with Trainor during the timeout before his winning kick.

If they had, it might have ruined the good bass story Trainor was thinking about. Jamie Lueders, the Arkansas holder, noticed Trainor was lining up different than normal but Lueders decided to remain silent.

"He was lining up a little deeper than usual," Lueders said. "He was back eight yards (from scrimmage) instead of the normal 6 yards. I don't know if he planned it that way."

Since summer football practice began, Trainor has been making the most of his plans at Arkansas.

He joined the team as a walk-on from Fredonia, Kan. Three days into practice, he was given a scholarship.

"We already had three kickers on scholarship," Hatfield said. "But when I saw how good he was, I added him as a fourth kicker on scholarship. He is a heck of a competitor. He was a quarterback in high school, and he does our dropback passing against our defense in practice."

Early in the season, Trainor did little more than play scout team quarterback and handle the kickoffs. Arkansas won its first five games before losing to Texas, 15-13, when the previous field goal kicker missed three attempts.

During the next week, Trainor became the new field goal kicker. He made four of his first five attempts before missing the last four from 50, 44, 47 and 42 yards.

While Trainor was experiencing the late-season slump, it was nothing new to veteran Arkansas players.

"We have had trouble with kicking for five years," senior linebacker David Bazzel said. "After five years, we finally got a kick when we needed it."

And that was no fish story as far as Arkansas players and coaches were concerned.

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