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UCLA's Henry Thomas Is Off to a Fast Start in 1986

April 01, 1986|CHRIS BAKER | Times Staff Writer

Henry Thomas, a prep All-American sprinter, has made an easy transition from Hawthorne High to UCLA.

Thomas was one of the top high school athletes in California. As a sophomore in high school, he won the 200-meter dash at the 1983 state track meet. Thomas won the 100 and 200 at the 1984 state meet as a junior.

He needed an appendectomy last spring and missed the 1985 state meet but came back last summer and ran the second-fastest 400 ever by a high school student, 45.09 seconds, in a European meet.

Thomas ran the fastest 200 meters in the world this year, 20.49, two weeks ago at UCLA in a quadrangular meet against Iowa, Azusa Pacific and Stanford.

Is he peaking too soon?

"Basically, I'm not running as much and my training is different, too," Thomas said at a track writers' meeting Monday. "I'm doing more over-distance work.

"John (Smith, a UCLA assistant track coach) is holding me back. Last year I had run 10 1,600-meter relays, but this year I've only run two."

Thomas will face a tough test when he runs against Canadian sprinter Atlee Mahorn of the University of California Saturday in a dual meet against the Golden Bears at UCLA.

UCLA's dual-meet team was ranked second in the nation last year and Cal was third. UCLA has won 17 consecutive dual meets since an 86-77 loss to Oregon in 1984.

"Cal has possibly the best dual-meet team they've ever had," said Bob Larsen, UCLA's head track coach. "And Mahorn's a super."

Mahorn, a freshman from Toronto, was a semifinalist in the 200 in the 1984 Olympics. He also won the silver medal in the 200 at the 1985 World University Games. He has best times of 10.4 in the 100 (wind-aided), 20.8 in the 200 and 45.95 in the 400 this season. He also anchors Cal's relay teams.

Thomas has a best time of 10.39 in the 100 this season and a personal best of 10.25. He also anchors UCLA's 400- and 1,600-meter relay teams.

Thomas said he is looking forward to running against Mahorn. "I've never run against him before," Thomas said.

Asked what his best event is, Thomas said: "That's a hard question. I like all of them. I have no preference."

He said his only goals are to improve his times.

"School is a lot different. College is more demanding than high school. And my body is changing. I'm a lot bigger and stronger than I was last year."

Thomas said he has grown and gained about 10 pounds through weight lifting. Thomas said he stands 6-2 and weighs 170 pounds.

Jackie Joyner, the silver medalist in the heptathlon at the 1984 Olympics, was also a luncheon guest.

"My biggest goal is to work in the heptathlon on the shot put and javelin," Joyner said. "I'd like to go to the Goodwill Games and compete against the Eastern Bloc athletes."

She recently married Bob Kersee, the UCLA women's track coach. She said that she will continue to compete as Jackie Joyner.

Track Notes USC will send a group of athletes to the Sun Angel meet at Arizona State Saturday. . . . Saturday's UCLA-Cal meet will be televised by Prime Ticket on Sunday at 7 p.m. Tom Kelly, Dwight Stones and Vic Holchak will do the announcing.

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