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Medearis Launches Comeback at Sunkist : Track: After missing state finals and most of football season because of injuries, Hart athlete is healthy again and aiming for a scholarship as a hurdler.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

After having his junior track season and senior football campaign short-circuited by injuries, Jason Medearis of Hart High will be one charged-up hurdler when he lines up for the 50-meter highs in today’s Sunkist Invitational indoor track meet at the Sports Arena.

Medearis was one of the top hurdlers in the state last season--with a personal best of 14.49 seconds in the 110 highs and 38.02 in the 300 intermediates--but two unwise decisions prevented him from proving it in the state championships.

He had no control over the first decision--the cancellation of the state finals after California Interscholastic Federation officials ruled that the all-weather track at Cerritos College was unsafe for competition when it rained the morning of the June event.

Then the CIF rescheduled the finals after an avalanche of criticism, but Medearis didn’t run because he suffered a broken bone in his left foot while playing football in the L.A. Watts Summer Games passing league tournament June 13.

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“I turned up field and on the second step I heard this huge crack like a cue ball landing on concrete,” Medearis said. “I realize now that I shouldn’t have been playing football at that time. . . . It wasn’t worth it.”

Medearis wore a cast for three weeks, but that was a minor inconvenience compared to the nagging thoughts of what might have been had he been able to run in the state finals.

Although he was more successful in the intermediate hurdles during the season, Medearis produced a surprising wind-aided 14.11-second clocking in the highs to win his qualifying heat in the state championships.

“I was shocked when I did that,” Medearis said, still amazed at the memory. “I couldn’t believe that I could run with the big boys.”

Medearis’ injury woes continued during football season. He suffered a dislocated shoulder during a Sept. 17 game against Thousand Oaks.

Doctors told Medearis, a wide receiver-defensive back, that it would take five months for the injury to heal, but coaches and teammates urged him to come back well ahead of schedule.

The pain in his shoulder combined with the knowledge that an identical dislocation would require surgery and sideline him for a year or more made his decision not to return an easy one.

“If (I dislocated it again), that would mean no senior track season,” Medearis said. “And I just couldn’t take that chance.”

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He had hoped to gain a football scholarship as an integral part of Hart’s high-powered passing offense, but when he went down with the shoulder injury, recruiters lost interest.

Whether Medearis earns a scholarship to an NCAA Division I school now depends on how well he performs over the 39-inch highs and 33-inch intermediates.

“He’s not a burner,” Coach Larry David said about his protege’s lack of elite sprinting speed. “But he has just enough speed to go with his technique and strength that he’s going to put most kids away.”


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