Fit to sprint

Times Staff Writer

His times are impressive, but Randall Carroll's timing is even better. He's hitting his stride, well, just in time for the CIF state track and field championships this weekend at Cerritos College.

Carroll, a junior at Los Angeles Cathedral who has committed to play football at USC, lowered his state-leading time in the 100 meters last weekend at the Southern Section Masters meet, speeding down the track in a wind-legal 10.47 seconds. He managed to drop his personal-best time, despite competing in cold and drizzly conditions at Cerritos College.

Even more impressive, he returned about 90 minutes later to win the 200 in a personal-best 21.29, overtaking state leader Joey Hughes of Long Beach Poly down the stretch. Carroll realized at the halfway point he was in position to win.

"I was in third coming out of the turn," Carroll said. "Usually, I'm like fifth or sixth, because I don't really run the curve well."

Carroll, who finished third in the state finals in the 100 last season, said he prefers the one-turn race because it showcases a sprinter's speed and strength. Now that he has posted a victory over Hughes, he's even more inspired to become only the fifth California boy since 1994 to win both events in the same state meet.

"He's training hard and taking care of his body," said Chris Flores, assistant track coach at Cathedral. "That's what he wants and when you want something that bad, you tend to go for it."

Adding to his motivation will be the presence of his mother, Landra Andrews, who has been unable to attend her son's meets this season. She gave birth to Carroll's half brother, Chase, three weeks ago. Before then, she was on bed rest for nearly a month.

"That was like the bad part," Carroll said of his mother's absence during the track season. "Other than that, it was fine."

After spending his childhood in Laguna Niguel, Carroll moved to Inglewood in sixth grade with his mother and sister, Rashad, a freshman at L.A. View Park Prep.

Carroll played football since he was 5, but didn't take up track until the summer before his freshman year.

He learned of Cathedral through one of its former coaches, who lived in his neighborhood and would attend his Pop Warner football practices, "just trying to get all of us to come to Cathedral," he said.

He said his mother was sold on the idea, and, with the help of a sponsor and the school's $1.2-million pool of financial aid, has been able to finance much of the tuition.

"I didn't want to send him to any of the schools around here," said Andrews, who confirmed that Carroll was recruited by a former Cathedral coach. "I wanted him somewhere where I didn't have to worry about him as much."

The recruitment of prospective student-athletes violates the Southern Section's undue influence eligibility standard, but John Ferrante, athletic director and dean of services at Cathedral, said he was skeptical such an encounter occurred in Carroll's case, stating, "We don't recruit like that. If we did, we'd win more."

Regardless, Carroll is one of the better athletes to ever attend the 82-year-old all-boys' private school in downtown Los Angeles. Its student body is nearly 100% minority, Ferrante said, and about 70% of its seniors are accepted into four-year universities.

Carroll calls Cathedral "a whole different world up there," and credits it with pointing him in the right direction.

"I would have went this far, but my attitude wouldn't have been the same," he said. "I'm like a better person now."

Carroll, who turned 17 in April, committed to USC in September, shortly after one of the Trojans' assistants, Ken Norton Jr., watched him during a game.

Carroll visited with Trojans Coach Pete Carroll a few days later and received his first scholarship offer during the meeting. Later that day, Randall called back to say he was accepting the offer.

Carroll said the Trojans have given him leeway to speak with other schools and take other official visits next fall, "to see if anything else is better . . . or if I find somewhere else I'm more comfortable at."

Among the schools that have caught his eye are Texas A&M;, Georgia and Florida. He's also found two good reasons to be interested in UCLA. His cousin, Johnathan Franklin of L.A. Dorsey, signed with the Bruins in February and Carroll has become impressed with Coach Rick Neuheisel, who was hired in December.

"It does put them in the picture," Carroll said of the Bruins. "He likes to win, so that should be good for them."



Track and field

What: CIF state championships.

Where: Cerritos College, 11110 Alondra Blvd., Norwalk.

When: Today and Saturday; gates open at 1 p.m. each day.

Today's qualifying schedule: Field events begin at 2 p.m.; running events at 5 p.m.

Saturday's championship schedule: Field events begin at 2 p.m.; running events at 4 p.m.

Admission: $10 general admission, $7 children under 13 and students with school ID on Friday; prices increase to $12 and $8, respectively, on Saturday.

Parking: $5 at the stadium.


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