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Running the road less traveled

EVAN CARAVELLI/Arizona Daily Wildcat
Senior sprinter Jevon Mason warms up his legs during a practice session at Drachman Stadium yesterday. Mason transferred to UA from Alabama after his sophomore year to compete for Arizona's track squad.
By Lindsey Frazier
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Wednesday, April 21, 2004
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UA senior sprinter Jevon Mason gives up baseball for chance at track and field stardom

For most athletes given the choice between playing Division I collegiate baseball or running track, the choice would be obvious.

Senior sprinter Jevon Mason is the exception, however.

"I started track my freshman year in high school. I always knew I was really fast and my friends were doing it, so I joined them because I had nothing else to do," Mason said.

"(It was) an opportunity to play more sports other than my main sport baseball," said Mason, who has played baseball from the age of 4.

But after going to Alabama, Mason transferred to the UA track and field team following his sophomore year, and made an immediate impact.

In 2003, the San Antonio, Texas, native ran the team's fastest time in the indoor 200-meter dash (21.34 seconds) and the indoor 400 meters (47.20 seconds). At the Pacific 10 Conference Championships, Mason finished sixth in the 400 meters. At the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships, he finished third in the same event.

Mason was a two-time All-American at Alabama a feat he cites as his biggest athletic accomplishment.

However, transferring to Arizona was not as smooth as Mason would have liked.

"The summer transfer here was my biggest obstacle," he said. "It was hard for me to find a school to accomplish my goals in track and field to become an all-American in the individual 400 meters and qualify for Olympic trials."

Though difficult, the move was for the best, as Mason says he became a superior athlete both mentally and physically upon joining the UA team.

"I think I improved physically because I'm a lot stronger than I was at Alabama, and I am stronger mentally. I'm also faster," Mason said. "I have improved as a person. Being a captain, I have to talk to my guys and get to know them on a one-on-one basis."

As a senior, Mason is doing everything he can to make this season count.

"(I want) to make the NCAA finals in the 400, as well as qualify for the Olympic trials," Mason said. "If I don't do it this year, I won't be able to do it again."

As a veteran athlete, Mason has taken on a leadership role with the younger sprinters.

"I try to direct my energy to the younger guys. I try and tell them ways to stay on top of their game and tell them to have confidence," Mason said. "Competition is a reflection of how you do in practice, so I teach them to stay positive and keep their focus."

UA head coach Fred Harvey agrees, adding that Mason's experience at Alabama has benefited him.

"He's a very self-confident individual with a lot of leadership from different areas, such as (being) a Division I (caliber) baseball player who chose not to play baseball in college and run track instead," Harvey said. "He attended the University of Alabama first that allows him to have a different perspective of different conferences and universities themselves."

Mason's confidence is apparent to his teammates, too.

"He's a very focused athlete and does everything he can to reach his goals, and he's a very competitive person," said fellow sprinter and sophomore Angel Perkins. "Every race he goes into, he's thinking about winning."

After a rocky start to the indoor season, Mason said he has regained his focus in order to complete his senior year strong.

"(His slow indoor start) was more psychological because he doesn't like running indoors. That's no excuse," Harvey said, "but that didn't allow him to run to his best ability because he has a fear or dislike of running indoors."

And after this season?

"I would love to run professionally, but that depends on how this year goes," Mason, a communications major, said. "If track does not work out for me, I'd like to work for an advertising agency."

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