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UC IRVINE NOTEBOOK / JOHN WEYLER : Coaches Are Glad Mayeda Needed Some Fresh Air

April 26, 1994|JOHN WEYLER

Maybe if he had run into the track offices at Irvine, David Mayeda would have earned instant respect. As it was, assistant track coach Jim Hiserman considers it one of his easiest recruiting successes.

"He just walked into our office last summer, said he was transferring to UCI and wanted to run track," Hiserman said. "We'd never seen him run, so I asked, 'What do you do?' He said, 'The 400 and 400 hurdles.' I said, 'What do you run?' He said, 'Forty-nine and 53.'

"So we were pretty excited."

What Hiserman didn't know then, he is constantly amazed by now. Mayeda's potential is just beginning to be explored. He considered himself first a wrestler and then a football player at University High while dabbling at track. For two years at UC Riverside, he concentrated on track but couldn't seem to tap all that potential.

At the moment, however, he has the Big West Conference's best time in the 400-meter intermediate hurdles (51.70), ranks No. 3 in the 400 meters (48.11) and No. 10 in the 200 (22.27).

"The coaching here is incredible," Mayeda said. "I mean my body is maturing and I'm stronger than ever, but I give the coaching most of the credit. I've always considered myself to be a hard worker, but in the past I've been working too hard. Plenty of quantity but not enough quality.

"At the beginning of this season, my (hurdling) form was awful. I haven't seen myself on tape that much since then, but I feel a lot more efficient, a lot smoother."

Hiserman isn't sure just how fast--or how far--Mayeda can go, but he is sure he'll lower his best time in the hurdles enough to qualify for the NCAA championships. The NCAA qualifying time is 50.70.

"The best race he's run this year, he had four bad hurdles out of 10," he said. "He had too much air time, took too many steps. If you smooth out just two of those hurdles, he'll run 50.5, 50.6.

"He had never alternated legs before. He ran 17 strides every hurdle, which is pretty hard to believe. But he's working on changing that because the person who takes the fewest steps in the 400 hurdles is going to win almost every time.

"David is learning more with every meet. We go over each hurdle after a race, the touch-down times after each hurdle and now he coaches himself. He's intelligent and is very good at analyzing a race. Plus, you couldn't ask for a better competitor."

Mayeda says part of his improvement can be traced to his work last fall as an assistant football coach at Sonora High.

"It was one of the most gratifying experiences of my life," said Mayeda, who coached defensive backs and running backs. "We went from 3-7 the season before to 6-5 last year and made the playoffs for the first time in eight years.

"We had a lot of fun together and I lifted (weights) with the players a lot. I think that upper-body strength that I never had before has really helped. It seems to carry me through the last 150 meters."

Mayeda could be in his third track season with the Anteaters and running who knows how fast by now, but he ended up at UC Riverside because it was the only school to offer him a "warm welcome." Warm soon turned to hot and smoggy, though, and Mayeda sought the clean air of home.

"I wasn't recruited by anybody," said Mayeda, whose goal this season is to break the Irvine school record of 50.64. "I had to contact coaches. Riverside was at least receptive. Irvine wasn't."

Give the Anteater coaches this much credit. They didn't blow it the second time around.

*

Point, counter point: Coach Rod Baker, who pulled off a major recruiting coups and filled a huge void at point guard last week when Riverside College's Raimonds Miglinieks signed a letter of intent, has solidified the position.

Raheem Muhammad, a 5-7 point guard from Los Angeles City College, signed a letter of intent and will have three years of eligibility with the Anteaters. Muhammad averaged eight points and six assists last season for LACC, the nation's 13th-ranked community college team.

"Raheem is a guy who will come in and be able to sustain us (at point guard) for a while," Baker said. "He's a good, solid kid and a solid student."

Anteater Notes

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