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CAREER GETS BACK ON TRACK SPRINTER RETURNS TO MOORPARK JC.

Byline: Kirby Lee Special to the Daily News

MOORPARK - Korey Cook thought his track career was over when he transferred from Moorpark College to Liberty University in Virginia on a football scholarship last fall.

It may just be the beginning for the sophomore sprinter, who returned to Moorpark this spring in an effort to help the Raiders' bid for a fifth consecutive Western State Conference title.

Cook will run in the 100, 200 and 400 meters and will anchor the 400- and 1,600-meter relays in the WSC championships on Saturday at Bakersfield College.

Cook, who ranks third on Moorpark's all-time list in the 100 and 200 meters, is the defending conference champion in the 200 and finished second in the 100 in last year's WSC meet. This spring, Cook helped Moorpark finish 13-0 in conference dual meets to extend its streak to 80 in a row.

Cook, a 5-8, 165-pound defensive back, left the Liberty football team after four games in the fall because of philosophical differences. Cook said he never felt comfortable at the Christian school in Virginia founded by Jerry Falwell, and felt restrained by the dress code of collared shirts and slacks, and by curfews.

Relinquishing a football scholarship to return to Moorpark and run track was an easy decision for Cook despite a partial track scholarship offer from Washington State. Cook has two years of track eligibility remaining compared to one year of football.

``My objective had always been to play football in the NFL,'' Cook said. ``It was hard leaving Liberty knowing that I couldn't play. Moorpark is like a second home, it seemed like the best place for me. It was a learning experience and made me realize I have to be focused on what I have to do.''

Another factor for coming back to Moorpark for the Nevada native was an opportunity to take a shot at a state team track title that he missed during his freshman year in 2002-2003.

Cook did not compete in track in 2003 after he left for the spring semester to attend Southern Nevada junior college while his paperwork for financial aid for out-of-state tuition at Moorpark was processed.

``I was sad that I wasn't on the team not but happy that they won, but I thought that we could do it again this year,'' Cook said.

Cook, who was third in the 100 and sixth in the 200 in the Nevada 4-A state track championships as a senior at Mojave High, came to Moorpark after he was spotted by the Raiders' coaching staff while playing in a postseason all-star football game in Nevada.

``I had heard of L.A. but I never knew where Moorpark was,'' Cook said.

During his freshman football season in 2002, Cook helped Moorpark finish 10-1, including a 55-28 victory over Pasadena City College in the Potato Bowl, in which he had a 55-yard kickoff return.

It didn't take long for Cook to capture the interest of Moorpark track coach Doni Green. It wasn't until the 2004 track season that Cook, however, first stepped into the starting blocks for Moorpark.

``We wanted him right away but it was two years before we could get him to come out,'' Green said. ``He has really adapted well.''

Green kept in touch with Cook after he when he returned to Las Vegas for the spring semester in 2003. Green was among the first people he called about his decision to leave Liberty University.

``I wanted to come back and run for him,'' Cook said of Green. He took me by the hand and told me what to do. He is a very good coach and a good mentor.''

FAST TRACK

Name: Korey Cook.

School: Moorpark College.

Sport: Track & Field.

Height: 5-8.

Weight: 165.

Notable: Cook will run in the 100, 200, 400 and 400- and 1,600 relays in the Western State Conference track and field championships at Bakersfield College on Saturday. ... He played football for two seasons at Moorpark in 2002 and 2003 and attended Liberty University on a football scholarship last fall. He relinquished his football scholarship to return to compete in track at Moorpark this spring.

CAPTION(S):

photo, box

Photo:

Moorpark College sprinter Korey Cook returned to the school to run track after playing football at Liberty University.

Tina Burch/Staff Photographer

Box:

FAST TRACK (see text)
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Publication:Daily News (Los Angeles, CA)
Date:Apr 17, 2005
Words:727
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