Down-to-Earth Diet, Hard Work Keep This Shotputter at the Top

In the ‘70s, Rocky ate raw eggs.

But today, he’d probably just pop an amino acid pill or chug a protein drink. Easier to get down and less offensive to movie audiences everywhere.

For the record:
12:00 AM, Apr. 18, 1991 For the Record
Los Angeles Times Thursday April 18, 1991 Orange County Edition Sports Part C Page 9 Column 1 Sports Desk 2 inches; 36 words Type of Material: Correction
Shotputters--Because of a reporting error, two names were omitted from a list of all-time Orange County high school shotputters in Wednesday’s editions. Mark Stevens of Newport Harbor is fifth at 67 feet 2 1/2 and John Brenner of Fullerton is 10th at 64-5 1/2.

The sports nutrition industry has boomed since the day Rocky Balboa quaffed his first cholesterol cocktail on the big screen. Today, some athletes spend hundreds and even thousands of dollars on training supplements such as mega-vitamins, exotic herbs and “energy” candy bars.

It’s all food for naught, though, to Mark Parlin.


Parlin, a senior shotputter and discus thrower at Esperanza, dismisses the manufacturers’ claims on training supplements. Unlike many of his peers, he refuses to get caught up in the eat-to-win craze. He doesn’t believe in incredible edibles, never understood the buzz on bee pollen.

At 6 feet 1, 213 pounds, Parlin is one of the smallest weight men around. He admits he’d love it if Mother Nature zapped him with a growth spurt, but he says he’ll manage fine at his present size, thank you.

Parlin is ranked third in the nation in the shotput with a mark of 65-6 1/2 and fourth in the discus at 194-1. Those marks rank him sixth and second on the Orange County all-time shotput and discus lists.

This season, Parlin hopes to do what no one has done since 1985--win both events at the State meet. The last to do so was Capistrano Valley’s Brian Blutreich, the county record-holder in each event.


Last year, Parlin finished second in the State shotput final, but his 62-9, then a career-best, was a stratosphere away from the winning mark of 74-4 3/4 by senior Brent Noon of Fallbrook.

At the time, Parlin described Noon as “awesome.” It became a common description for the boy who tossed the 12-pound steel ball past the magical 70-foot line again and again. Noon had a best of 76-2, coming as close as anyone has to the national high school record of 77-0 set by Michael Carter in 1979.

And now, even though his career best is about 4 1/2 feet short, Parlin is aiming for 70 feet.

“It’s a big barrier, I realize,” said Parlin, who’s also aiming for 200 feet in the discus. “In the beginning of the year, I hit 70 with a 10-pound shot, and I’ve hit it four times since with the 10 . . . I hope to get it (with a 12-pound shot) in mid-June.”

That would be at the Golden West Invitational, an event for the nation’s top seniors June 8 at Sacramento. Parlin, a big-meet performer, knows he needs top competition to inspire great throws.

Otherwise, his inspiration is based solely on hard work--namely the hours of jerks, power cleans and snatches he does every day in the weight room.

Parlin shuns gimmicks. He doesn’t spend hours visualizing his competition, nor does he watch videotapes of his opponents. He calls the wide variety of muscle and fitness magazines “a joke.”

And unlike many shotputters, he does not partake in special psyche-up antics such as screaming and huffing or puffing.


“And I don’t eat moths,” Parlin says dryly, referring to teammates who have done so for a kick.

He laughs about a shotputter last year who performed wild karate moves in front of Noon, hoping to psyche Noon. After the karate artist finished his antics, Noon calmly won the competition.

As a personal fitness instructor at a Yorba Linda health spa, Parlin, who will major in kinesiology at UCLA, cringes when those older than himself refuse to take his advice to progress slowly in their workout regimens.

“There are no shortcuts,” he says.

He admits he has been tempted. Always one of the smaller throwers at Esperanza, Parlin tried amino acid supplements as a sophomore, hoping to gain weight. He put on 10 pounds in two months but says it was probably from an increase in weight training more than anything.

Besides, he said, it cost him $18 for the bottle of tablets.

Parlin says he often hears opponents saying that he and past Esperanza athletes have used anabolic steroids, but he says “never.” Judging solely from his physique--he has dropped seven pounds since last season and looks more like a baseball slugger than a shotputter--it doesn’t seem likely.

Compared to sophomore teammates Travis Kirschke (6-3, 230) and Darren Flynt (6-1, 245) Parlin is tiny. On a visit to UCLA this year, Bruin throwing coach Art Venegas brought Parlin, accompanied by Kirschke and Flynt, over to meet Coach Bob Larsen.


Larsen first went to shake the hand of Kirschke, thinking he was Parlin. Then he went to shake Flynt’s hand, thinking him Parlin.

Finally Parlin stepped forward and said, “No, I’m Mark.”

In short, it’s an identity crisis he can handle.


All-time Orange County top 10s in track and field weight events:


1. Brian Blutreich (Cap. Valley), 69-6 1/2, 1985

2. Jim Neidhart (Newport Harbor), 69-3 3/4, 1974

3. Dave Kurrasch (Newport Harbor), 68-5, 1975

4. Terry Albritton (Newport Harbor), 67-9, 1972

5. Dave Murphy (Sunny Hills), 67-2, 1966

6. Mark Parlin (Esperanza), 65-6 1/2, 1991

7. Jim Doehring (San Clemente), 64-11 3/4, 1980

8. Greg Aitkenhead (Miss. Viejo), 64-7 1/2, 1984

9. Kaleaph Carter (Edison), 64-0 1/2, 1988

10. Craig Polley (Sunny Hills), 63-6 1/2, 1977


1. Brian Blutreich (Cap. Valley), 210-8, 1985

2. Mark Parlin (Esperanza), 194-1, 1991

3. Andy Marrone (Dana Hills), 192-1, 1990

4. Tambi Wenj (Fountain Valley), 190-8, 1984

5. Mike Bain (Corona del Mar), 189-10, 1987

6. Scott Hudson (Mission Viejo), 187-2, 1980

7. Dan Westerfield (Cap. Valley), 186-8, 1981

8. Kaleaph Carter (Edison), 186-2, 1988

9. Kevin Jefferies (New. Harbor), 185-11, 1981

10. Greg Aitkenhead (Mission Viejo), 185-2, 1984

Source: Orange County Track 1991, Don Chadez.