Bucking the trend that sees most athletes competing in a single sport, Sean McKeown of Moorpark College and Amy Blackburn of Ventura won individual titles in the Southern California junior college track and field championships Saturday at UC San Diego.
McKeown, a guard on the Raider football team for the past two seasons, won the men’s shotput with a personal best of 51 feet 8 3/4 inches and placed fifth in the discus (159-0) and eighth in the hammer (155-8).
Blackburn, a forward on Ventura’s basketball team, threw a personal-best of 148-5 to win the women’s discus.
“I like football and track equally,” McKeown said. “I would really like to continue to compete in both next year. (An NCAA Division I) school is going to have to make me a pretty good offer in one sport or the other to keep me from doing both.”
Powered by McKeown and fellow sophomore Isaiah Mustafa, Moorpark finished fifth in the team standings with 44 points.
Long Beach City College totaled 179 points to win its ninth consecutive title. Riverside was second with 127 points, followed by Mt. San Antonio (79) and San Diego Mesa (50).
Although McKeown has been among the best shotputters in the state all season, he felt he had something to prove after a near-disastrous performance in the preliminaries May 7 when he fouled on his first two attempts before putting a paltry 45-9 on his final effort to advance to the championships as the seventh of 12 qualifiers.
“I didn’t have a very good day last week so I felt like I needed to come in here today and show that I could compete in this event,” McKeown said. “That was important to me.”
McKeown never trailed in the shotput as he opened the competition with a 48-8 3/4 effort, improved to 51-8 3/4 in round two and finished with three puts better than the 49-1 1/2 best of runner-up Frank Hoffman of San Diego Mesa.
Mustafa, second in the Southern California decathlon championships last month, spanned 23-6 1/4 in the long jump to finish third and cleared 6-6 in the high jump to place fifth.
Mike Esparza accounted for Moorpark’s other points by finishing second in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a personal best of 9 minutes 28.18 seconds.
Esparza is running competitively this year for the first time since 1990, when back surgery curtailed a promising freshman season at Moorpark.
Blackburn entered the meet with a personal best of 139-2, but topped that mark on four of her six throws.
After throwing 139-0 in the first round, she had throws of 146-6, 148-3, 148-5, 121-4 and 142-5.
Five of her six throws were better than the 135-7 best of second-place Misako Hampton of Bakersfield.
“She had a great series of throws,” Ventura Coach Tuck Mason said. “We figured she was in for a good day because she was kicking up the chalk at the 140-foot mark in warm-ups.”
Isaac Turner of Glendale fell 15 meters behind leader Daniel Das Neves of Cuyamaca after getting boxed in with 350 meters left in the 800 meters--but finished strongly to place second in a personal best of 1:51.77. Das Neves ran 1:50.70.
Mark Landtiser of Canyons couldn’t maintain a two-meter lead in the final straightaway of the 400 intermediate hurdles, but hung on to finish fourth in 53.01.
Auria Roberto of Glendale was fourth in the 1,500 (4:47.28) and 3,000 (10:21.41).
The top four finishers in races 800 meters or shorter qualified for the state championships at Cerritos College on May 20-21, with the fastest fifth-place finisher from either the Northern or Southern California championship also advancing.
In longer races and in the field events, the top six finishers advanced.