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Pirates' Pearson calm and focused


© St. Petersburg Times, published May 4, 2001

DADE CITY -- Keymo Pearson hopes to go Saturday where he hasn't gone before.

To a height of 6 feet, 6 inches in the high jump at the Class 2A state meet, to be exact.

To the Pasco standout, that height will give the junior his best chance of finishing in the top four and will keep him in contention for the state title.

But so far this season, his best heigh is 6-4. Not bad in Pasco County, where he's one of the top jumpers, but it might not be good enough to reach the upper echelon, either.

Pearson made it to state last year and finished 11th with a height of 6 feet. It came in the first leap of preliminaries. This season, Pearson expects to pass that mark. But first, he has to think his way to the top.

"I need to calm down, really, that's because I get too excited," Pearson said. "I'll be a lot calmer this year. I'm used to it now. I think I'll handle it pretty good. Last year that's what went wrong, I couldn't handle it."

To do so, Pearson said he'll have to clear his mind of everything except the bar.

"The first thing you've got to do is to get your mind right," he said. "You can't worry about other stuff. You've just got to worry about what you've got to do. I think I was too focused last year. I was the first jumper, in front of all those people.

"But I've got it down this year."

Pearson is one of the hardest workers on a Pasco squad that has more talent than bodies. He has even been studying videotapes to perfect his technique.

"He definitely trains hard," Pirates coach Raven Lewis said. "He has a great work ethic about him."

Pearson is a natural jumper, the by-product of his hard work on the basketball court. But few are good enough to get over the bar without solid technique. Fortunately for Pearson, his coach said, he has broken down every individual move of the event.

"It all starts with the approach," Lewis said. "You want to be consistent at it, you want to have your steps down, your foot down and you want your approach to be the same every time. You want to run it the same, you want to plant, drive up and over and lay it all out."

Pearson laments the lack of that magic ingredient every track standout needs: competition. Because Pasco competed in few of the major meets this season, Pearson didn't always see the area's best leapers. Maybe he would have already hit 6-6 by now if he had, he muses.

"I never had anyone to push me before," he said. "I will now."

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