Kenny Mitchell, an assistant track and field coach at Taft High, might not regain full use of his right arm until the end of the year or even later, but he won't let that slow him down next season.
Mitchell, 37, saw senior Blaine Bussey of Taft set a region record of 46.3 in the boys' 400 meters in the Northwest Valley Conference finals on May 14, but Mitchell suffered a stroke on May 24 and wasn't in attendance when Bussey won his second City Section and first state titles.
"I was in the hospital for about two weeks," Mitchell said. "But I'm all right. I'm doing rehab three times a week [six hours a day], but I was doing it five times a week when I started."
Mitchell, who has coached Taft's highly regarded boys' sprint and relay corps for five years, had complete paralysis in his right arm shortly after the stroke, but he has regained some movement in it. He can move his upper arm and is hopeful he'll have full motor skills from the elbow down by the end of the year.
"It was frustrating not to be out there," Mitchell said of missing the end of the 1999 season. "But I had to take care of myself first."
With that in mind, Mitchell has reduced the amount of salt, fat and red meat in his diet and he's taking medication for high-blood pressure, something he didn't do before the stroke.
Taft will be without Bussey and Cal State Northridge-bound Marquis Brignac next year, but Mitchell is confident the Toreadors will still have some notable sprinters and relay teams.
"Chris [Morgan] is coming back and we'll have some other guys returning," Mitchell said. "We've also got a lot of good ninth-graders coming in."
Morgan, a junior, won the long jump, placed third in the 110 high hurdles and ran the third leg on Taft's second-place 400 relay team in the City championships. He finished ninth in the long jump and high hurdles in the state meet.
Bussey, whose hand-timed 46.3 clocking in the 400 broke the region record of 46.67 set by Quincy Watts of Taft in 1988, said he will attend Mt. San Antonio College or Long Beach City in the fall.
Bussey, academically ineligible for NCAA Division I, considered Central Arizona and Barton County (Kan.) community colleges.
You can go home again. Just ask Michelle Lewis.
Lewis set a Buena record of 4:57.65 in the girls' 1,600 in 1986 and will be an assistant girls' cross-country coach at her alma mater this fall after helping out at Nordhoff the last five years.
Steve Blum, Lewis' high school coach, is looking forward to working with his former protege.
"She's the best runner I coached and one of the nicest people I've met," Blum said.
Look for Jamar Cargo of El Camino Real in a bit role as a member of the school choir in the hit movie "American Pie."
Cargo, a senior and defending City champion wrestler at 189 pounds, auditioned for the part by singing "How Sweet It Is to Be Loved By You."
A drama student and member of the school choir, Cargo aspires for a career as a performer. Between auditions, Cargo finds time to compete in track and as a two-way lineman in football.
"My agent said that, now that I got this job in such a good movie, it will be easier for me to get jobs in [TV] pilots," Cargo said. "Hopefully, in something major."
Jessica Buttafouco, daughter of Joey and Mary Jo Buttafouco, is playing basketball for El Camino Real in the Santa Clarita Shootout.
Joey, Mary Jo and Amy Fisher--dubbed the "Long Island Lolita"--were involved in a love triangle that included a 16-year-old Fisher shooting Mary Jo in the head on her doorstep in 1992.
Staff writers Vince Kowalick, Paige A. Leech and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.