Jeremy Mineau (M-A) and Fermen Smith (Prospect) articles - 2003

Jeremy Mineau article - Athlete of the Week

Jeremy Mineau, Menlo-Atherton

Sport: Track and field.

Event: 3,200 meters. Class: Junior.

Accomplishment: Mineau set a personal record and Central Coast Section season-best of 9 minutes, 15.30 seconds at the Arcadia Invitational, placing 18th in one of the strongest high school fields assembled. Eleven runners broke nine minutes for a distance just short of two miles. Mineau, the CCS runner-up last year, came through the first lap in 64 seconds and the first mile in 4:32 in an attempt to stay in the back of the pack. Though he lost contact on the final two laps, Mineau was pleased with his performance and progress. His goal is a sub-9:10, which he says should allow him to place at the state meet.

Comment: ``I knew this was going to be a smoking race,'' Mineau said. ``My goal was to prove to myself that I was in shape and that I could compete. I wasn't too concerned about my place.''

Honor roll

Baseball: Russ Hagemann, Palo Alto; Chuck Lofgren, Serra.

Volleyball: Phil Mathews, Serra.

Alex Chang-Graham, Castilleja

Sport: Softball.

Position: Pitcher. Class: Freshman.

Accomplishment: Eight games into her high school career, Chang-Graham has yet to give up an earned run. In 51 innings, she has given up one walk and 15 hits and has struck out 98. On Tuesday, Chang-Graham (6-2) struck out 12 and delivered a four-hitter in a 2-0 loss to Notre Dame-San Jose. She followed with a one-hitter, striking out 10, in a 3-2 victory over Woodside Priory on Thursday.

Comment: ``Castilleja's program has struggled the past few years because we haven't had much pitching,'' said Becky Unruh, who also coached Chang-Graham on Castilleja's middle school team. ``I was more than excited when I found out Alex would be coming down the pipeline.''

Honor roll

Track and field: Allie Miller, Los Altos.

Softball: Molly Hoo, St. Francis; Ali Lycette, Menlo School.

Coaches and athletic directors are encouraged to make athlete of the week nominations from Friday through 8 p.m. Sunday. Phone (408) 920-5814 or e-mail Please provide statistics and a home telephone number for the coach and/or athlete.

Fermen Smith article

Fermen Smith's high-jumping season ended last year at the Central Coast Section finals, when he barely missed qualifying for the state meet. But he didn't let the setback get him down.

``I figured all the guys who qualified were seniors. I knew I had another year, so I wasn't worried about it,'' said Smith, now a senior at Prospect High. ``I was surprised by what I accomplished as a junior -- now I want to win CCS and take it all the way to state.''

Smith jumped a then-personal record 6 feet 4 at the CCS finals last season, good enough to tie for third place. But because he missed one more jump than his opponent, he was denied a state tournament berth.

This season, the 17-year-old is reaching new heights -- on April 3, he cleared 6 feet 7 in a dual meet against Santa Teresa, the best mark in the CCS this year.

Smith's jump broke the Prospect school record of 6 feet 6 set in the 1970s, according to Panthers Coach Kirk Mansfield. The 6-foot, 155-pound Smith credits his success to help from his coaches and the support of his father, Vernon Smith, who tries to see every jump.

``He comes to all my meets, and if I mess up a jump, he lets me know that there will be opportunities to improve in the future,'' Fermen Smith said.

Mansfield is the third head track coach in the last four years at Prospect. He has a great rapport with the student-athletes and hopes to build a program that will draw enough community support to bring an all-weather track to the school.

Mansfield, who previously coached at Monta Vista and Gunderson, knows he has something special in Smith, who averaged 10 points per game as a forward on the Panthers' basketball team this season.

``I've coached some great athletes in the past, but I've never coached a boy with as much raw talent as Fermen has,'' Mansfield said.

A middle distance runner when he attended high school at Lynbrook in the mid-1980s, Mansfield hasn't shied away from seeking help for his jumper from other coaches, including Lynbrook Coach Darrin Garcia, who cleared 6 feet 9 for Leigh in the late 1980s and went on to compete in the decathlon for Cal Poly-San Luis Obispo.

``He's been a big help,'' Smith said. ``I've been training hard with him and working on my technique, getting my approach down. A lot of coaches just coach, but he's competed in the sport, and he gets out there and shows you how to do it.''

Garcia has been impressed with Smith's drive and willingness to learn.

``Fermen has a great attitude. He's very coachable and takes criticism really well,'' Garcia said. ``He has a lot of natural spring, is very flexible and has everything you want in a high jumper. He has just started to reach his potential -- I can see him clearing 6-10 sooner rather than later, and that would get him to the state meet.''

Smith plans to jump at West Valley College next season and transfer to a four-year school after that. His goal? Clearing 6-11.

Smith said clearing 6 feet 7 was more of a relief than a surprise.

``After I cleared the bar, I just looked for my dad in the crowd and pointed at him,'' Smith said. ``He told me, `I knew you could do that.' ''