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On the Fast Track : Speedster Michael Granville From Bell Gardens High Is Burning Up the Record Books

April 25, 1993|KIRBY LEE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Michael Granville was quite a track and field athlete in his day, winning two Southern Section titles at Lynwood High in the 1970s.

His son, Bell Gardens High School freshman Michael Granville II, might be even better.

"He still has a little bit to go but he's ahead of where I was at his age," the elder Granville said.

Not many high school runners of any era can match strides with the younger Granville, who has set two freshman national records and a state ninth-grade record this season.

Granville, 15, was named the Athlete of the Meet at the Arcadia Invitational April 10 after winning the 800 meters in 1:51.61--the second-fastest high school time in the nation this season. The mark eclipsed the national freshman record of 1:53.06 and the age-15 record of 1:52.1.

Less than a week later, at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays, the 6-foot, 165-pound Granville won the invitational 400 meters in 48.40 to establish a state freshman record, breaking the 11-year old record of 48.56 held by Henry Thomas of Hawthorne.

He opened the season in February with a freshman national indoor record of 1:00.01 at the Sunkist Invitational at the Sports Arena.

The elder Granville, 36, who has run 45.6 and 1:48.7 for 440 and 880 yards, starred at Lynwood High where he was the Southern Section 3-A Division 880-yard champion in 1975. He went on to compete for Cal State Northridge, where he cleared 7-0 in the high jump and leaped 50-0 1/2 in the triple jump.

He never tried pushing his son into track until the youngster dropped baseball and football to try his feet at it when he was 11. Father has coached son ever since and watched him quickly blossom into one of the nation's top age-group runners.

Granville placed second in the midget boys' (age 10-11) 100 meters (12.41), 200 meters (25.29) and 400 meters (55.22) at the Athletics Congress Youth Athletics championships three weeks after taking up track.

As an eighth-grader at Bell Gardens Junior High last year, where he was the school's valedictorian, Granville won the 400 and the 800 in the youth boys' (age 13 and 14) division at the Youth Athletics championships and at the Junior Olympics.

"I'm not trying to follow in my father's footsteps," Granville said. "Some people like to do art, I chose to run track and he's helping me do better. It's not like a workout, it's like going to have fun and play with your dad. We respect each other and know our limits, but we're almost like twins."

Bell Gardens Coach Fidel Elizarrez has also noticed the Granvilles' bond.

"It's hard to believe they're son and dad," he said. "I'm close to my son, but it's unbelievable. They're always walking together. They're inseparable."

Their closeness prompted Elizarrez to allow the elder Granville to coach his son as well as his daughter ShaLaura, 13, a freshman sprinter on the girls' team. He also helps coach sprints and the field events at Bell Gardens as a volunteer assistant.

"I'm there to help anywhere I can whether it's with the milers, distance runners or cheerleaders," he said.

Elizarrez and the elder Granville met before the season to balance individual goals with team goals. They meet periodically to plan the younger Granville's racing schedule.

Granville was permitted to sit out a pivotal Almont League meet against Alhambra the day before his race at Mt. San Antonio. Bell Gardens (6-0, 4-0), won despite his absence and remain in contention for its third consecutive league title.

"I can't say we haven't had any arguments but we've worked things out," Elizarrez said.

Granville has not had difficulty making the transition to high school competition. He clipped nearly four seconds off his previous 800-meter best of 1:55.5 at Arcadia.

His 800 time would have been fast enough to win at the state meet five of the past six years, but believes the 400 is his best event. He plans to concentrate on the event at next month's Southern Section championships.

In addition to the 400 and 800, Granville also holds school records in the 100 (10.6) and 200 (22.1). He is hoping to become the first male athlete from Bell Gardens since the school opened in 1947 to qualify for the state meet in June.

"To me it's just another track meet, but the people are a little faster," Granville said. "Everybody is keeping an eye on me, but that part doesn't bother me. If I win, that's a bonus, if I lose I'll just try harder to win next time."

A Look at the Numbers

Michael Granville has set four track records in his first season at Bell Gardens High: DATE: Feb. 20 EVENT: 500 yards (indoor) TIME: 1:00.01 MEET: Sunkist Invit. OLD RECORD: 1:00.4 held by Troy Delemar, Pasadena, 1979 (freshman national record) *DATE: April 10 EVENT: 800 meters TIME: 1:51.61 MEET: Arcadia Invit. OLD RECORD: 1:53.06 held by Steve Adderly, Del Ray Beach, Fla., 1987 (freshman national record) *DATE: April 10 EVENT: 800 meters TIME: 1:51.61 MEET: Arcadia Invit. OLD RECORD: 1:52.1 held by James Beverly, Midland, Tex., 1981 (age-15 national record) *DATE: April 16 EVENT: 400 meters TIME: 48.40 MEET: Mt. SAC Relays OLD RECORD: 48.56 held by Henry Thomas, Hawthorne, 1982 (state freshman record)

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