Madison's Kenan Christon was the top qualifier in the sprints but got a push from Clayton Valley's Cameron Reynolds in his 200 meter heat. (MileSplitCA photo)
CLOVIS -- Sometimes, highly-touted athletes have problems living up to their reputation.
Not Madison's Kenan Christon.
That means USC football fans can only hope Christon's raves as a running back manifest themselves as well as his exploits on the track in the California State Championship qualifying Friday at Veteran's Stadium.
The muscular 5-10,185-pound Christon impressively posted the leading marks in both sprints, clocking a 10.32 in the 100 with the aid of a 2.5 meter-per-second breeze before coming back to roll in the 200 at 20.67. The wind cooperated at 1.7 mps
The national leader at 20.55, Christon won the metric furlong by a full half-second and had a .16 bulge in the 100-both over Del Oro junior Ryan Mulholland.
After his 100, he waited around to watch another San Diego runner, Escondido Orange Glen's Moray Steward, win his heat in 10.58.
"That's my buddy," said Christon of Steward, who beat him in last year's state championships, running fourth to Christon's sixth.
Not only did Steward win, he left the runner most everyone felt would be the Christon's main competition in both races, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame's Christian Grubb, in his rearview mirror.
"That race looked just like I imagined it would," said Christon of Steward's victory. "I knew he'd beat Grubb-I had a good feeling."
Steward didn't bother to look.
"I didn't know who was behind me, really, and I didn't care," said Steward. "I watched Kenan's race, saw how had trouble at the start, and I focused on how I'd run. Once I got in front, all I wanted to do was win."
The third heat winner, Mulholland, posted a lifetime best 10.48 and clearly he and Steward will be there to provide the push in the 100.
Christon actually had a slow start.
"Yes, the starter held us a little longer than I'm used to but I wasn't about to false start," he said. "That really was one of my worst starts. After about 40 meters I was out of my drive phase and very comfortable. Really, I don't think anyone can beat me the last half of the race."
As for the 200, Christon had a nice lead coming off the turn and collected his second-best time.
"Those are good times because they show I'm not just a one-meet runner," he said. "I run close to my fastest times week after week-my marks aren't scattered. I am what I am and the 200 feels easy. I'll ice the right spots, get a good night's rest, and he ready to go."
As impressive as those runs were, Christon's most dramatic performance came in the 4x100 relay where he came from dead last to fourth. But with a 42.44-second time, the Warhawks' team did not advance.
He doesn't think so, but Christon knows the championships may be his last time running track.
USC signed him as a football player but they agreed to let him run track, which he also loves and has run since he was small.
"They told me I could do both," he said. "It'll feel great to get behind a big offensive line and kind of hide before breaking away. I'm looking forward to it. I know they've let good track guys run."
Think O.J. Simpson and Earl McCullouch.
But first he wants two firsts to help people forget his two sixth-place finishes a year ago.