It has been a rough school year at Como Park High School. Two 16-year-old students assaulted a teacher and sent him to the hospital. Black Lives Matter protested the on-line commentary of another teacher.
Roy Magnuson, a long-time teacher and track and field coach, was a supporter of the second teacher: Theo Olson. He was pictured in the media at a gathering of teachers wearing a butting supporting Olson and speaking to the group.
This has not altered Magnuson’s attempt to put his high school in a good light when possible.
A couple of years ago, he contacted me with a potential column idea:
Trevon Clay, an emerging sophomore hurdler, being coached by Marvin Rouse, an assistant coach who had been a high school and college track star in the 1950s.
Clay was a quiet and lean young man. The quiet came through as he answered a reporter’s questions in the fewest words possible.
This was a couple of days before the 2014 state track and field meet would be held at Hamline. Clay had won the 110-meter highs and the 300-meter hurdles in the Section 4AA meet.
That’s a loaded section, and Magnuson and Rouse went into the state meet with high hopes that Clay would give Como Park and the St. Paul Conference reason to celebrate.
The worst possible scenario took place:
As Trevon prepared for the 110, his best event, his shoes were inspected and the spikes were deemed to be too long. He was disqualified.
Then, in the 300, he was ruled to have wavered into another lane and caused obstruction. He was disqualified for the second time
“Both in the prelims?’’
Clay nodded his head. “It was a terrible day,’’ he said.
Clay went back to the state as a junior and gave Como Park and St. Paul that glory: first in the 110 highs, and third in the 300. That’s in Class AA -- against the lads from the jumbo-sized, well-heeled suburban schools.
Trevon had another outstanding season as a senior receiver for a Como Park football team that scrapped its way to a 4-6 record last fall. And then he started gearing up for a final track and field season.
Clay wound up his City Conference competition with firsts in the 110 highs, 300 hurdles, long jump and triple jump. That gave him 12 individual firsts in St. Paul, the most in conference history.
The real journey was to get back to the state meet in the hurdles. A repeat victory in the 110s would be a triumph, but he’s had another idea in the back of his mind – to better the state meet mark of 13.88 seconds.
Trevon’s best time going into the Section 4AA meet was 14.15 seconds. The prelims were Tuesday at East Ridge High School. He had a qualifying best of 14.60 and also advanced to the finals in the 300 hurdles with a time of 42.02.
Clay has filled out by 10 pounds – and by appearance, all muscle – since he was a sophomore. He talks to a reporter much more easily. He’s been balancing track and field and the final weeks of high school with two jobs, at Domino’s and in concessions at Target Field.
He is going to attend Iowa Central Community College in Fort Dodge, to play football and run the hurdles.
“I don’t have a main sport,’’ Clay said. “I’m equally excited to compete in both of them.’’
The Section 4AA finals will be held Thursday at East Ridge.
Como Park High will be cheering for Trevon Clay. And, yes, it’s nice for Como Park High to be cheering.