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Spotlight: Roosevelt senior has passion for the short race

Posted Tuesday, December 16, 2008 by Jerry Soifer
The Press-Enterprise


EASTVALE - Jerome Rideaux II has the desire to run the sprints on a major college track team. He has the grades -- a 3.2 grade-point average -- to be admitted. UC Riverside and Cal State Fullerton have accepted the senior from Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale.

Rideaux, 17, also has the work ethic. He put in 80 miles a week of training runs for the cross-country teams he was a member of during his four years of high school.

However, his relatively diminutive size, 5 feet 8 inches, 137 pounds, and speed indicate he would be better suited to be distance running than sprinting. Rideaux has a simple explanation for preferring the shorter races, especially his favorite, the 400 meters.

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Jerry Soifer / The Press-Enterprise
Jerome Rideaux II is a standout sprinter for Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Eastvale

"I like 50 seconds of pain more than 20 minutes of pain," Rideaux said. "That's why I like track a lot more than cross-country."

Rideaux helps make his 4X400-meter Roosevelt relay team a contender for CIF and state honors. He ran a leg on the Mustangs team that won the relay at the Chet Nicholson Relays on Saturday with a time of 3 minutes 22.85 seconds, nearly eight seconds faster than second-place Claremont.

Rideaux would need great improvement on his best marks of 50.5 seconds in the 400, 22.5 in the 200 meters and 21 feet 8 inches in the long jump to be considered for a college scholarship in track, which is a rare commodity..

He expects to step it up this season. "This year is my senior year," Rideaux said. "I'm a lot more motivated. I want a scholarship. I'm working towards it."

Rideaux said he wants to run so much in college he would try to join the team as a walk-on, a nonscholarship student.

He spent his first two years of high school at Norco where football is the big deal. His father would not let him play.

"He started slipping in his grades," Jerome Rideaux I said. "I'm a big advocate of bringing home good grades. It's always education first and extracurricular activities second. He didn't play football."

The younger Rideaux has received some coaching from his famous cousin, Darrell Rideaux, a former track and football star at Long Beach Poly High and USC.

"Darrell is a huge influence on my son," said the elder Rideaux. "My son looks up to Darrell. ... He (Darrell) gives him (Rideaux) pep talks."

Rideaux may be a teenager but his calm behavior belies his age. "He's probably one of the most mature young men I've ever been around," said Aaron Shires, Roosevelt track coach.

Shires said Rideaux runs the sprints with so much heart that he is a natural fit in the shorter races. "People might underestimate him because of his stature," Shires said.

Reach Jerry Soifer at 951-893-2112 or jsoifer@PE.com

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