Tradition, represented by Bill Paul and Clyde Turner, nods approvingly at the accomplishments of the two latest standout sprinters at Muir High School in Pasadena, a team that churns out stars with regularity.
This is no startling revelation, since Corey Ealy and Ricky Ervins, as juniors last year, earned their entry into an impressive club that includes the likes of John House, Harold Busby, Johnny Lynn, Ron Brown and Bernard Mathis.
A 40.89-second clocking in the 400-meter relay at the 1986 Mt. San Antonio College Relays in Walnut turned potential into credibility--and set a school record. Ealy and Ervins were part of that four-man team, and both later reached the Southern Section 4-A finals in the 100 and 200. Ealy won the two titles, then went on to finish third in the 200 and fourth in the 100 at the state meet, leading Muir to a tie for fifth in the team standings.
Ever since, the question has not been "Do they fit in?" but " Where do they fit in?" Are they now the best ever to run at the school?
Paul, the track coach since 1983, and Turner, who has been associated with the program as an athlete and now the sprint coach since the early '70s, danced around the question and avoided a definite answer. But, they allow, the mark in the 400 relay stands for a lot.
"That says something," Paul said. "We have seen a lot of great relay teams here, but the one those two ran on holds the record."
This season, with Andreas Douglas and Marcus Robertson joining Ealy and Ervins, Muir has run 41.28 in the 400 relay, the second-best time this season in California behind Hawthorne's 41.28. Ealy, Ervins, Robertson and Jason Gray have also clocked a 3:18.49 in the 1,600 relay, the fourth-fastest time in the Southern Section. The Mustangs will be looking to move up in both at today's Mt. SAC meet.
Individually, Ealy is No. 1 in the Southern Section and No. 3 in the state at 100 meters with a wind-aided 10.60 last Saturday at the Mt. Carmel Invitational near San Diego--he has a legal 10.87--and No. 1 in the Southern Section and No. 4 in the state in the 200 with a 21.35 two weeks ago at the Arcadia Invitational.
Ervins has run 10.92 and 22.2, which could give Muir another 1-2 punch in the 4-A finals next month. Robertson, meanwhile, has California's best time in the 800, a 1:54.06 at Arcadia.
Ealy has lost just three races this season, all to junior Quincy Watts of Woodland Hills Taft, the state 200 champion as a sophomore. Along the way, Ealy and Watts have become good friends and now talk on the phone several nights a week.
Maybe two of the best sprinters around talk about getting a good start out of the blocks, a problem Ealy has yet to completely conquer. Or maybe they talk about getting psyched up for a big meet, like Mt. SAC today, or meeting again at the state finals in June at Sacramento.
Or maybe nothing.
"Girls," Ealy said. "I'm not even going to lie. We talk about girls."
About three weeks ago, Watts also persuaded Ealy to include push-ups and sit-ups into his daily regimen, something that Ealy had never done before. Now, he does 100 of each in the morning and then again at night and says it has made a difference.
Ervins, a running back-wide receiver who made the All-Coastal Conference team as an all-purpose player and is heading to USC on a football scholarship, has also made a difference. His mark on Ealy, however, may not be apparent from muscle growth.
"Ricky has been such a positive influence," Paul said. "Corey came to us with a lot of problems with his grades, and he was moving around a lot. . . . Ricky has been a solid middle-to-high B student all along. So whereas Corey has helped Ricky with his running, Ricky has helped Corey with his head."
Being undisciplined is something Ealy, now in his third year on the varsity, doesn't deny. He knows, and so do Paul and Turner, that in a lot of ways he has gotten this far without much more than God-given ability.
"I'm blessed, because I should be working harder," he said.
Ervins is something of the opposite, a great starter who used that to his advantage to win the football 60-meter dash indoors at January's Sunkist Invitational at the Sports Arena. He time was 6.89, better than the 6.92 Brian Bridgewater of L.A. Washington ran for a meet record in the boys' open 60.
Ervins also is regarded as a hard worker, the type of person who gets the most out of his talents.
On the track, however, they are very much alike. If one is winning a race, the other isn't far behind.
And if they are running in adjoining lanes, then you see real teamwork. They talk to each other, verbally push each other.
"C'mon, Ricky," Ealy will say. "Pump your arms. Pump! Pump!"
Turner said: "It's been sort of a secret of ours, but I'm sure a lot of schools do something like it. But, with our kids, we like to have them talk to each other during a race. Right at a certain point, one will say, 'Hit it! Let's go!' "
Said Ervins: "We like to communicate. . . . If you talk to each other to give some inspiration, that's a good weapon. That could be worth a hundredth of a second."
Prep competition in the Mt. SAC Relays will start this morning at 8:30. . . . Sylmar, No. 3 in The Times' City baseball rankings, beat No. 1 Sun Valley Poly, 4-0, in an East Valley League game Thursday as pitcher Olonzo Woodfin had a no-hitter through 5 and finished with a two-hitter to run his record to 8-1. He suffered his only loss last month against Poly, also by a 4-0 score. . . . Anaheim Esperanza continues to lead the Southern Section 4-A baseball rankings, with Lawndale Leuzinger atop the 3-A, Mission Viejo Capistrano Valley the 2-A, Playa del Rey St. Bernard the 1-A and Van Nuys Montclair Prep the Small Schools large division and Norwalk Leffingwell Christian the Small Schools small division. Capistrano Valley in 3-A and St. Bernard in 2-A also are No. 1 in the state in their respective divisions. . . . The Southern Section leaders in softball: Huntington Beach Edison in 4-A, La Crescenta Crescenta Valley in 3-A, Whittier La Serna in 2-A, Lancaster Paraclete in 1-A, and Leffingwell Christian in Small Schools.
Quincy Watts of Woodland Hills Taft has been added to the field for the open 100 and 200 meters at the Pepsi Invitational May 16 at UCLA. However, Janeene Vickers of Pomona, one of only a few preps invited, will not compete because of a prior commitment. . . . Kamy Keshmiri of Reno, the national record-holder in the discus, had a memorable meet at Mt. SAC last year, though for the wrong reason. His next-to-last throw hit the top of a chair mistakenly left in the field and had to be measured from that point, cheating him out of a couple feet. He "settled" for a winning mark of 203-5, then the fifth-best mark ever, but now just another 200-plus effort after the 224-3 he did two weeks ago at the Arcadia Invitational.