Change in Work Habits Vaults Patterson to Top

At Cal State Northridge, the pool is a popular place for seniors to goof off. But the only time you’ll find Sue Patterson poolside is when she’s working as a teaching assistant for a triathlon training class.

Patterson doesn’t often rest. When she’s not teaching two hours every morning, she’s working hard at the track.

Patterson trains four hours a day for the heptathlon, which consists of seven track and field events over two days. CSUN assistant coach Charlie DiMarco has worked with Patterson for the past five years and has known few athletes who match her dedication.

“Nobody trains as hard or as consistently,” DiMarco said. “My job is to keep her healthy. I find myself trying to get her to back off in her training.”


Patterson didn’t always take so quickly to hard work. As a senior in high school, Patterson opted for the easy life and seldom practiced with the St. Genevieve track team. Her personal best in the high jump was only 5-0--not good enough to attract any scholarship offers.

Hard work and a greater level of commitment have paid off. Her best jump is 6-0 3/4, and she has earned Division II All-American honors in the heptathlon and the high jump.

Said fellow CSUN heptathlete Chris Culotta: “We’re in awe of her. She’s a workaholic.”

Patterson has a personal best in the heptathlon of 5,095 points and is expected to place in the top three in the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. She also has a chance to win the Division II national high jump title.


It was at Valley College that Patterson picked up the competitive attitude that has carried her above the crowd. She trained under sprint coach Dave Harvey, whom she calls “the most motivating coach I’ve ever had.”

Patterson’s sights are set on the 1988 Olympic Trials. She will train exclusively for the high jump after this season but needs to improve to 6-6 to be competitive at the trials.

“If she keeps improving the way she has in the past, she’ll be at that level,” DiMarco said.