Jesuit pair enjoys a running battle


By Rachel Cohen / The Dallas Morning News

The series is dead even. Four times during this year's outdoor track and field season, Jesuit seniors Alex Altaffer and Tony Corona have squared off in the 800 meters. Twice, Altaffer has outrun Corona. Twice, Corona has defeated Altaffer.

"We've been switching off," Corona said.

Athlete of the week
Matchup No. 5 looms Saturday at the track where they push each other daily in practice. Corona and Altaffer, who boast two of the top three reported times in the area in the 800, will race again in the Class 4A division of the 37th annual Jesuit-Sheaner Relays at Haggar Stadium. The meet features many of the top boys teams in North Texas, along with a few entrants from out of state.

Altaffer, who has run the 800 in 1 minute, 54.71 seconds this year, won that event there last season. Corona, who has been clocked in 1:55.64 this season, captured the title two years ago.

And they might not even be the favorites in the 800, which figures to be one of Saturday's top races. Denton senior Ryan Ponsonby has the best reported time in the area this season (1:52.95) and beat the Jesuit teammates at the Leadership Ford/Richardson Invitational two weeks ago.

Ponsonby is also a strong 400 runner and will try to get off to a fast start in the 800, Denton coach Gary Roberson said. Corona said he plans a similar strategy. Altaffer, though, prefers to wait a little longer before kicking into high gear.

Altaffer and Corona have seen plenty of each other's race strategy.

"Sometimes, you'll go to a smaller meet and there's no one else that strong in your event, and you can win easily," Altaffer said. "But I know every time I race I'm going to have good competition."

That competition takes place in practice as well.

"It makes you train better," Corona said. "You know there's always someone else to push you. You won't slack off as much."

Still the best

Denton coach Gary Roberson thinks he has attended about 16 Jesuit-Sheaner Relays. Each time he returns, he gets to open the program and see his name listed under the meet record-holders.

Roberson still holds the event's top mark in the 100 meters, a hand-timed 10.3 seconds run in 1978 when he was competing for Terrell.

"I have been keeping an eye on that," Roberson said. "I do get a little kick out of it. I'll show it to all my athletes."

Saturday will also be a rare opportunity for Roberson to watch his son, Forney junior DaBryan Blanton, race. Roberson, though, said he would rather see Blanton, the defending Class 3A state champion in the 200, running for Denton.

Top competition

The Class 4A triple jump field is loaded with top competitors, including Ennis' Vincent Marshall, who placed second in last year's Class 4A state meet and has jumped 44 feet, 4 inches this season. At Jesuit, he'll see some of his top challengers in Fort Worth Eastern Hills' Derrick Gleason and Quinchun Carey and Corsicana's Danieal Manning and Leonard Gibson.

On Saturday, they'll be joined by Herbert Harris of Ruston (La.), whose seed jump is 45-8.

"It seems like 4A is where all the triple jumpers are right now," Eastern Hills coach Michael Prewitt said.

In the Class 5A 1,600 meters, Canton's Ty Stanfield and Patrick McGuire of Plainview (Okla.) could both break 4:20 on Saturday.


NAME: Jeremy Wariner

SCHOOL: Arlington Lamar

CLASS: Junior

NOTABLE: Wariner didn't have long to rest between his two running events in Friday's Rigsby Relays, but he still won both with impressive times. His hand-timed marks of 21.43 seconds in the 200 meters and 48.88 in the 400 were among the best in the area this season. He also took second in the long jump with a leap of 20 feet, 6 inches.

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) 2000 The Dallas Morning News
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