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Pick of the preps.

Byline: STEVE MIMS The Register-Guard

When Ernie Kent left St. Mary's College to take over as the Oregon men's basketball coach in 1997, his youngest son wasn't immediately sold on the idea of moving north.

"At the time I was devastated because I had a lot of close friends in California," Jordan Kent said. "Now, I couldn't imagine what it would be like if I lived in California. The last four years of my life have been so much fun, I'm so glad we moved up here now."

If the Kents had not moved, Jordan would be showing off his basketball and track skills at San Ramon Valley High School in Danville, Calif.

Instead, he has become a multi-sport star for Churchill.

"Who knows how I would have developed in sports down in California?" Kent said. "Would I have been a track athlete? It's real interesting how something as small as moving one state can change your life so much."

The 6-foot-5 Kent was a first-team all-state basketball player during his senior year for the Lancers, and then became the first boy to ever win four individual events at the Class 4A state track and field meet. For his efforts, he has been selected as The Register-Guard's male prep athlete of the year.

Kent has signed to play basketball for his father at Oregon, and he will also compete in track and field.

His high school career is not completely finished as he will compete in three national track and field meets this month where his marks would still be considered as prep performances in the record book.

However, Kent's name is already filling up that record book.

At this year's state meet, he won the 200 meters in an automatic time of 21.29 seconds, which broke his own state record. He won the 100 in a wind-aided time of 10.54, but his legal time of 10.60 in the preliminaries ranks third in state history.

He is the only Oregon prep to exceed 25 feet in the long jump, as he won the event last year with a mark of 25-1 1/4. He defended his title in the long jump this year, and won the 400 for the third straight season, this year with a time of 47.22 that ranks as the second-fastest in state history.

Kent won the 200, 400 and long jump at state as a junior, and repeating those accomplishments was the original plan for this year.

"Going into track, I didn't think about going for four events," Kent said. "I was going to do the same three and try to get those 30 points, but when I ran the 100 at Westview in 10.72, which was the fastest time in the state, I thought I might be able to do this."

All eyes were on Kent at Hayward Field during the state meet. Although he seemed calm throughout, there was pressure building on the 17-year-old.

"If I would have lost one of those races when I was a heavy favorite, people would have scrutinized me," Kent said. "If I had lost one of the races that I won the previous year, I would have been devastated. I was fortunate to win all four, and that is something nobody can take away. When I won, that took all the weight off my shoulders, there was no more pressure."

Kent will be back in action at the Golden West Invitational on Saturday in Sacramento, Calif., where he expects to compete in the 400 and long jump. From there, he heads to the adidas Outdoor Championships on June 14-15 in Raleigh, N.C., followed by the USA Track & Field Junior National Championships at Stanford University on June 21-22.

Kent won eight track and field state titles during the past three years and helped the Lancers win a pair of team championships.

He was also a state champion in basketball as a junior, when he scored 20 points as the Lancers defeated Benson 78-46 in the state title game.

This season, Kent led the Midwestern League in scoring with 18 points per game, and was a first-team all-league selection. The Lancers placed seventh at state this year, and Kent was a first-team all-state selection.

"I think I can improve so much more in basketball right now than in track," Kent said. "I can improve in both, and that will be the fun thing in college, seeing how much better I can get in both sports. Maybe someday basketball will surpass track. Who knows?"

Kent showed this year how well equipped he is to deal with the quick transition from basketball to track.

The basketball season ended on March 9, and after a week off, Kent began training for track by running distances for 30 to 40 minutes per day. He was also traveling each week with his family on the Oregon basketball team's trip through the NCAA Tournament, including stops in Sacramento, Calif., and Madison, Wis.

Kent was also with his family at the Final Four in Atlanta, where he would run along a track at the top of a hotel, or on a treadmill to stay in shape.

His first big track meet of the year was April 12 at the Springfield Invitational, and Kent set meet records in the 200, 400 and long jump.

This summer, Kent will find out if his late start in track might also result in a late peak.

"We will find out in upcoming meets if I am peaking at state, or do I still have room to improve?" he said.

When Kent arrived in Eugene for eighth grade, he stood 5-7. One year later, he enrolled at Churchill as a 6-1 freshman. He played soccer, basketball and track as a youth, but decided to focus on basketball and track with the Lancers.

"I got to state in the 400 during my freshman year, and that was when I thought I might have something going in track," Kent said. "I told myself, `Wouldn't it be cool to win state next year.' As my sophomore year went on, that became a more realistic goal.

`When it happened, track took on the same priority as basketball for me, in terms of what my future could be."

As for what that future could be, Kent has big goals.

"In track, I'd like to get to the Olympics in any of my events," he said. "In basketball, I'd love to make it to the NBA. But those are not my No. 1 priorities right now. The first thing is to get through college and get my degree in sports marketing.

"I want to do as well as I can in college sports, and if I work as hard as I can, things will take care of themselves. If I have a future playing sports, great. If I don't, I won't be devastated. It has been fun while it lasted."


Siuslaw's Haley Hunt (left) and Churchill's Jordan Kent made big impressions while competing in the state meets at Hayward Field.
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Title Annotation:Kent excels by dominating in basketball and track; Sports
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Jun 4, 2002
Previous Article:Zimmerman leads list of hall of fame inductees.
Next Article:Lancers' run to title leads seasons of success.

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