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KEEPING TRACK / JASON REID

Columbia a No-Brainer for Petrone

November 17, 1994|JASON REID

Challenges can make people do the darndest things, especially when they're the cerebral type like Dan Petrone. The two biggest challenges Petrone has had to face simultaneously drew him to the best and worst of college life.

Petrone, a thinking man's middle linebacker, departed from the county for New York in the summer of 1993 after outstanding athletic and academic careers at Estancia High and Orange Coast College. He traveled about 2,800 miles to play and learn at Columbia, an Ivy League school renowned for its award-winning scholars and repugnant football.

If things could've worked out better, Petrone would like someone to explain how.

"The challenge of turning around the program, and the challenge of taking on one of the toughest schools in the nation, is something I really wanted," Petrone said. "After I graduate, I'll be able to look back on my two years at Columbia and see that, both from an academic and athletic standpoint, I met the challenges I knew I was facing."

Petrone, 22, is a two-year starter in the middle of the Lions' four-three defense. He's second on the team in tackles with 76 and is tied for third in tackles for losses (eight).

His consistent effort is a big reason the Lions will finish with a winning season for the first time in more than two decades. With one game left, Columbia is 5-3-1. The Lions, who play host to Brown on Saturday, were 6-3 in 1971.

"He's made a ton of plays," Columbia Coach Ray Tellier said. "He's been very, very consistent and very steady.

"We rely on him to make a lot of tackles and he has come up big."

A J.C. Grid-Wire scholar-athlete while at Orange Coast, Petrone also meets his goals in the classroom, maintaining a 3.6 grade-point average. He will graduate in May with a degree in psychology.

"With our academic standards, we don't get many (community college transfer students) in this league," Tellier said. "But we felt we had a need two years ago and we felt he could fill it. We haven't been disappointed."

Petrone did not receive scholarship offers after high school because football powers want their linebackers a little bigger than 5 feet 10 and 200 pounds. He figured enrolling at Orange Coast would give him some time to think about his course on the football field and in the classroom.

After his sophomore season, Petrone drew interest from a few schools. When Columbia called, however, the choice was simple.

"I thought about the weight of the degree," he said, "and I don't regret the decision at all."

*

It didn't take long for freshman forward Jed Weinstein to display his flair for success at Emory University.

Weinstein, who excelled in soccer and tennis at Corona del Mar, is sixth on the soccer team in scoring for Emory, a Division III school in Atlanta. He has three goals and six points in 10 games for the Eagles (7-10-1), and scored the first goal in the team's 2-0 victory over Chicago on Oct. 23.

"Jed has definitely come in and done what we expected him to do," Coach Mike Rubesch said. "He's a tremendous team player."

Weinstein also plans to continue his tennis career at Emory.

*

Brian and Grant Pearsall, formerly of Villa Park High, are preparing for relatively important football games Saturday.

Brian, a standout junior defensive end at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which hopes to finish undefeated in conference.

The Mustangs (6-4, 2-0 in the American West Conference) visit Southern Utah to close the season. Brian (6-2, 265) leads the conference in sacks with 10 1/2.

Grant (6-1, 185) is a freshman free safety at USC who contributes on special teams. USC plays some school that's based in Westwood.

*

Kelly Kuebler made good things happen for Los Alamitos, and she's doing the same for the USC women's volleyball team.

Kuebler, a junior outside hitter, has 272 kills--third-most on the team. Kuebler (6-0) has helped the Trojans to an 18-6 record and a No. 12 national ranking by Volleyball Monthly magazine.

Keeping Track is a regular column in The Times following the progress of former Orange County athletes competing at colleges elsewhere. Readers with information for this feature may reach Jason Reid at (714) 966-5847 or send it by fax: (714) 966-5663.

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