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Pirate ready to soar even higher

By JAMAL THALJI, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 7, 2002

DADE CITY -- Pasco jumper Keymo Pearson may be the most respected track athlete in the county.

It's not just for his jumping ability, which has earned him three trips to state and three state medals, the latest of which was for eighth place after he leaped 6-feet, 6-inches at the Class 2A track and field championships.

Nor is it just his versatility, which was on display this season as Pearson alternately dominated the high, long and triple jumps in the county.

He won all three Sunshine Athletic Conference jumping titles, in the high, long and triple. He won the high and was second in the long at district. And at region he was third in the high and fourth in the triple.

No, for Pearson, respect was given to him from teammates, coaches and peers alike because of his leadership. This season, Pearson took on an added role to help guide the Pirates' track squad. He was so effective teammates nicknamed him "Coach Keymo."

"He took on the responsibilities of being the leader of this team," coach Raven Lewis said. "Which he had to do. He saw the need for that amongst his teammates, and he did a good job of keeping them on the level."

Thanks to Pearson, for example, workout partner Garion Pope medaled in his first trip to state in the triple jump.

"I had to help out when I could," Pearson said. "People would come up to me, asking me for help, asking me to how to do this."

But it wasn't easy, especially with Pearson chasing his own goal of a state championship after finishing fourth at state in the high jump last season. That he fell short still gnaws at him.

"It could have been a better season," he said. "It wasn't the best season ever, but hey, it wasn't terrible either. I just had a bad track meet at state."

But Lewis said Pearson still retained his focus.

"He knew what he wanted and he set his goals high and went after it," he said. "He trained and always competed hard."

Pearson is heading for the Air Force this summer, where he hopes to continue his track career in the service.

"I think it's the best for me, it has the best opportunities for me," he said. "I'll have a steady job for four years. I won't have to worry about money. I'll get to travel, I'll get to see a lot of the world and most people don't get to see that.

"But I'll still be training, too. I'm going to try to make the All-Air Force team. In fact, I know I will."

Lewis said Pasco doesn't quite realize yet just how much it's losing in Pearson -- or what it's gaining.

"They're losing leadership, they're losing a champion's heart," the coach said. "But they're also gaining from his legacy. He's going to leave his work ethic behind here."

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