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TRACK & FIELD / JOHN ORTEGA : Noel Stabs at Olympics With Spear

July 22, 1994|JOHN ORTEGA

Drastic times call for drastic measures.

Thus Garrett Noel, a long-time Valley resident, packed his belongings and boarded a plane to Virginia Beach, Va., on Wednesday to began training with his father Alan in preparation for the 1996 U.S. Olympic Trials.

"I'm going back to my roots," said Noel, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American in the javelin for Cal State Northridge. "My father has been my coach for most of my life and he's a phenomenal technical coach. He's broken down my throwing technique and we're going to go back to the basics and work on all the things that I need to improve on to become a better javelin thrower."

Although Noel's move might surprise some in the track community--considering he placed seventh in the USA Track & Field championships in June with a personal best of 247 feet 8 inches--the 1988 Crespi High graduate said he needs his father's guidance in order to make the 1996 Olympic team.

An investment banker since graduating from Northridge last year, Noel continued to train with John Frazier, his coach at Northridge.

But after producing mediocre marks in three Canadian meets, Noel quit his job in May to devote more attention to the javelin.

"I realized then that I had to get as focused as I possibly could if I wanted to get to the next level," Noel said. "It just wasn't going to happen the way things were going. After a full day at work, I just didn't have the energy necessary to get in a good workout."

The move appeared to pay dividends at the national championships when Noel improved his personal best by eight inches and placed five spots higher than in 1993. Still, he wondered what his results would have been had he trained more intensely.

"That was the first time in my life that I've ever watched (the officials) measure off a (personal record) and been disappointed," he said. "I just knew there was so much more there."

How much more could become evident in the next two years. Alan Noel will support his son and Garrett will train full-time.

"I should be throwing in the 250s consistently and in the 260s in the big meets," he said. "No more of this 240 stuff. Those days should have been over last year."

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Trivia question: Name the former local standout who is one of only three City Section athletes to have won consecutive titles in the mile and/or 1,600-meter run since the State high school championships began in 1915.

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Adjustment period: Donna Mayhew won her fourth national title--and third in a row--in the women's javelin in last month's USA Track & Field championships, but the former Glendale College standout has been hampered by a hip injury for much of the season.

Mayhew, 34, is in the midst of her 16th competitive season, but Charlie DiMarco, her coach for the past two seasons, says that alterations to her technique, not the passing of time, are responsible for the injury.

"I don't think age has anything to do with it," he said. "We've changed her run-up and that has allowed her to get into more extreme positions which her body is not used to. It's just going to take time for her body to adjust to the new positions."

DiMarco is confident that Mayhew will make the necessary adjustments by the end of the season. Then he'll start her on a two-year training program that is designed to have her in peak condition by the 1996 Olympics.

"All we have to do is keep her healthy and she'll make the team," DiMarco said. "After that, it's up to her. She should be capable of putting together a big throw in the Olympics."

Mayhew placed seventh in the 1988 Olympics and was 12th in 1992.

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Name-dropping: Jeremy Fischer, a June graduate of Camarillo High, figures that he must improve his personal best of 7-4 to win the high jump in the World Junior (age 19 and under) championships in Lisbon, Portugal, on Sunday.

He would become the first U.S. athlete to win the high jump at that meet and would join a distinguished list of previous winners--Cuba's Javier Sotomayor (1986), Poland's Artur Partyka ('88), Dragutin Topic of Yugoslavia ('90) and Great Britain's Steve Smith ('92).

Sotomayor is the world record-holder at 8-0 1/2 and won the 1992 Olympic Games and 1993 World Championships.

Partyka has a personal best of 7-9 1/4, won the silver medal in the World Championships and was a co-bronze medalist in the Olympics.

Topic has cleared 7-9 3/4 and Smith tied his personal best of 7-9 1/4 to place third in the World Championships.

"That's quite a list," Camarillo Coach Dennis Riedmiller said. "Sotomayor is as big as they get."

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Add Fischer: Although Fischer remained undefeated outdoors this season by winning last week's USA-Canada Junior meet in Buffalo with a jump of 6-10 3/4, he almost withdrew from the competition because of severe cramps in his calves.

Fischer cleared 6-4 3/4 and 6-6 3/4 on his first attempts, but began cramping at 6-8 3/4. He missed his first two attempts at that height before clearing it on his third--and final--effort.

He cleared 6-10 3/4 on his first try to win the competition, but did not jump thereafter.

"After everything he'd been through, he just decided to call it a day," Riedmiller said. "We don't think it was anything serious. We think he was just dehydrated, and competing in hot and humid conditions caused him to cramp up."

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Trivia answer: Brent Tubb of Cleveland ran 4 minutes 12.9 seconds in 1970 and 4:09.6 in 1971 to win state titles in the mile.

In 1971, Tubb defeated Righetti's Paul Cummings, who later become one of the top distance runners in the country.

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