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LOCAL COLLEGES: Chaffey College Hurdler Khallifah Rosser Quickly Becoming A Star

Chaffey College hurdler Khallifah Rosser won the 400-meter hurdles at the California Community College Athletic Association championship meet last month and will compete in the United States Junior National meet on June 19-23. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher / Staff Photographer)

Chaffey College hurdler Khallifah Rosser won the 400-meter hurdles at the California Community College Athletic Association championship meet last month and will compete in the United States Junior National meet on June 19-23. (Jennifer Cappuccio Maher / Staff Photographer)

Khallifah Rosser planned to compete in multiple events in track and field in his freshman year at Chaffey College, even going out and purchasing a pricey pair of jumping shoes.

A month or so into his spring season with the Panthers, those plans changed.

Head coach Blackman Ihem and hurdle coach Orentheus Hutcherson saw so much potential in their prized recruit they thought it would be better if he focused on one event rather than spreading him too thin, possibly risking injury.

“I told him keep those shoes as a souvenir, he wasn’t going to need them,” Ihem said after a morning workout with his athletes at Grigsby Field. “We knew he had potential to do something special if he just concentrated on one thing.”

Rosser, a graduate of Summit High School, has been thriving ever since. He won the 400-meter hurdles at the California Community College Athletic Association championship meet last month at College of San Mateo with a time of 52.08 seconds, despite having his shoe come untied halfway through the race.

Next up is the United States Junior National meet held in conjunction with the prestigious United States nationals in Des Moines, Iowa, from June 19-23. It is for athletes ages 16 to 19.

And yes, Rosser, 17, has Olympic aspirations.

“I’m not thinking that far ahead, but I would like to have that chance,” Rosser said. “I’m just going to keep working hard and trying to get better and see where it goes.”

There are a lot of factors in Rosser’s favor. At a lean 6-foot-2, Rosser has the perfect body type for a hurdler.

His age is another factor. He’ll be 20 come time for the 2016 Olympics, with another two Olympics coming in the time it typically takes male track athletes to reach their prime.

Diet is not an issue. Unlike most his age, he stays away from fast food and soda.

Ihem and Hutcherson like the progress their pupil already has made, without the benefit of conditioning work that normally takes place in the fall.

A nagging hip injury prevented Rosser from participating in the offseason strength and conditioning program, and yet he was still able to cut almost three seconds off his time in his event by the end of the season. He ran a 54.22 in his first meet of the season.

Hutcherson was hoping to see Rosser get down to 50 seconds flat and thinks that might have happened at state without the shoe mishap. He could still get down to that by the time his sophomore year officially starts.

“We knew he was going to be good, but you never know with guys,” Hutcherson said. “When we saw how much he improved in such a short time, we knew what we had. He also has a great work ethic. He wants to get better.”

Rosser’s improvement also comes even though the event is relatively new to him. High school hurdlers run 300 meters rather than the 400 meters in hurdles, but Rosser also competed in the open 400 meters.

“It really wasn’t that tough because it was a combination of both of those, which I did,” he said.

Rosser, one of seven siblings, played several sports growing up, including soccer, football and basketball. He didn’t try track until his sophomore year of high school and did so because he had watched older brother Fred, who competed for Silverado High School and now attends Division II Humboldt State.

His times are already better than those of his 20-year-old brother. It is a fun, yet coemptive rivalry. It’s also nice to have a relative in which to confide after a bad race or practice.

He looked into going to several four-year schools in the Cal State and UC systems but opted for the school closest to home. Friends also recommended Ihem to him.

“I work and get better in smaller settings,” Rosser said. “Not just when it comes to athletics, but the classroom too. I find I do better.”

Like it or not, Rosser just might have to get used to that bigger stage.
By Michelle Gardner Staff Writer

Posted:   06/04/2013 09:03:45 PM PDT


Shareece Wright Goes Pro But Never Leaves Home

2011 NFL - Oakland Raiders

2011 NFL – Oakland Raiders

HIGH SCHOOL: He was a 2005 Super Prep All-American, Prep Star All-American, Super Prep All-Farwest, Prep Star All-Western, Long Beach Press-Telegram Best in the West first team, Orange County Register Fab 15 second team, Tacoma News-Tribune Western 100, Cal-Hi Sports All-State third team, All-CIF Southern Section second team, All-CIF Division I first team, Riverside Press-Enterprise All-San Bernardino first team and All-Citrus Belt League selection as a senior defensive back and running back at Colton (Calif.) High. He had 68 tackles and 2 sacks in 2005, plus ran for 1,094 yards on 78 carries (14.1 avg.) with 16 TDs and caught 13 passes for 336 yards (25.8 avg.) with 4 TDs despite missing the first 2 games with a broken left hand.

As a junior in 2004, he made the Riverside Press-Enterprise All-San Bernardino squad while recording 102 tackles, 2 sacks, 3 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries and rushing for 1,297 yard on 139 carries (9.3 avg.) with 14 TDs. Current Trojan Allen Bradford also prepped at Colton

PERSONAL: He’s sociology major at USC.

For Kawhi Leonard, Perseverance Is His Biggest Accomplishment

Christian Petersen/Getty Images ANAHEIM, Calif. — On its surface, the story does not make sense.

Christian Petersen/Getty Images
ANAHEIM, Calif. — On its surface, the story does not make sense.

Kawhi Leonard needed someone to drive him? Leonard, a 6-foot-7, do-everything talent for San Diego Statewhom his coaching staff and teammates hail as the Aztecs’ most tireless worker and the man behind the wheel of their historic N.C.A.A.tournament journey, could not drive himself?

Not exactly. But in what has become a comical subplot to the tale of a player who is one of the topN.B.A. prospects in the tournament, Leonard’s basketball career was once threatened by an inability to secure transportation.

“The coach wouldn’t let me play when I was a freshman,” Leonard said by telephone this week of his first year at Canyon Springs High School in Moreno Valley, Calif. “I missed the tryouts, and I sent him an e-mail saying why and how my mom was out of town and I couldn’t get a ride over there. He knew I was a good player, but he just didn’t want me to play.”

Inspiration, however, is hardly in short supply for Leonard, a 19-year-old sophomore forward.

The memories of his father, Mark Leonard, and how he was shot to death at the age of 43 at his Compton car wash in 2008, remain agonizing and persistent. Yet as the shy and wary Leonard deals with the tournament hype, questions about his father keep coming.

He answers them all respectfully, making clear how much he wishes his father was still part of his life instead of part of his bio. No, he does not want to know the identity of the killer, who was never found. Yes, he misses those weekend days scrubbing cars with his father, with whom he did not live but with whom he spoke every day.

Leonard started playing basketball as a sophomore at Canyon Springs, then transferred toMartin Luther King High in Riverside as a junior and was named Mr. Basketball for California as a senior. The night after his father’s death, he scored 17 points for Riverside King in a loss to Compton Dominguez. Those in attendance saw him burst into tears afterward in the arms of his mother, Kim Robertson.

Those who came to know him later would see the same penchant for perseverance.

“Kawhi has had to deal with more stresses in his life than most at a young age, and he has managed to do that, to do it in his own way, and to do it with his head held high,” Aztecs Coach Steve Fisher said. “He is soft-spoken, quiet off the court, and someone who is filled with the burning desire to compete, improve and win, and he has done that everywhere he has been.”

The next challenge comes Thursday when No. 2 seed San Diego State (34-2) takes on No. 3 Connecticut (28-9) in the West Regional.

The Aztecs had never won an N.C.A.A. tournament game until this year, but victories over Northern Colorado and Temple have them wanting more and have Leonard thinking twice about his future.

There were already plenty of accolades on his résumé, from the back-to-back Mountain West conference tournament titles to his selection by Sporting News as a second-team all-American. But Leonard, who has yet to decide if he will enter the N.B.A. draft in June despite being widely projected as a late lottery or mid-first-round selection, said the fun of the tournament might affect his thinking.

“It’s tempting to come back,” said Leonard, who is averaging 15.6 points and 10.6 rebounds a game. “People like to have a winning team. It makes you want to keep playing.

“My family doesn’t need the money right now. We’re not starving, hungry, living poor. It will be nice to have a lot of money, but I think my family could hold out two more years if I play through my senior year.”

He no longer wants for transportation as he once did. And as Leonard has shown, he will be the one picking his path.