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Hart's Riley Stauffer: Beyond the glory

Hart’s Stauffer gets few headlines, but was vital in the Indians co-title

Posted: April 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.
Updated: April 29, 2012 1:55 a.m.

Hart’s sprinter and hurdler Riley Stauffer doesn’t get all the headlines, but his consistent performances this season helped the Indians to a share of the league title. Now he’s hoping for success at Friday’s league finals.

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Hart boys track and field returned to the Foothill League elite this season. Some big names have helped the program do so.

Tim White is one of the best-known jumpers in the Southern Section. The same goes for Austin O’Neil and Sam Peckham in distance running.

There’s a sentiment among some people that Hart is a three-man team.

Try telling that to Riley Stauffer.

“Motivation, for me, is not about the big headlines or getting in the newspaper,” he says. “I just like winning. Beating those kids in the other lanes, that’s what pushes me forward.”

The UC San Diego-bound senior has been doing that quite a bit over the past couple seasons.

When you look up and down the results sheet from Hart meets, Stauffer’s name is all over it. He scores points in the 100-meter dash and the 110 high hurdles. He scores points in the 300 hurdles and the relay races.

At meets, five points are awarded for first-places finishes, three for second and one for third. Stauffer speculates that he scores an average of 10 points per meet.

He finishes in different spots. The point is, he finishes.

“I’ve seen him crash and burn sometimes,” says Hart boys head coach Gio Guzman, “but I always see him pick himself up.”

A track athlete since the sixth grade when he joined the Santa Clarita Storm, Stauffer has worked at perfecting each of his events every season.

“I think that’s really big for me,” he says. “Scoring points for the team is a big thing for me. I played football all four years, and that really taught me the value of team.”

In track and field, athletes have to learn how to balance the individuality of their event with the needs of the team as a whole.

That isn’t a problem for Stauffer, who played wide receiver for one of Southern California’s most respected head coaches.
“He was a great teammate,” says Hart head football coach Mike Herrington. “He’s kind of a quiet kid, but he has all the respect in the world from his teammates.”

In addition to that lesson, Stauffer’s strengths on the football field — Herrington says he’s a confident, fast kid who runs good routes — reflect is track training.

The dual benefits have shown up in dual meets.

Hart finished 4-1 in the Foothill League this season to earn a share of the Foothill League title, losing only to eventual co-champion Canyon at the league opener. It’s the culmination of a four-year developmental curve by Stauffer’s class that has restored the Indians to Foothill League contention.

It started at the frosh/soph level, where Stauffer and his teammates went undefeated. Stauffer himself went to the league finals in four different events as a sophomore, finishing second in the 110 hurdles, third in the 300 hurdles, and fourth in both the 100 and as part of the 4x100 relay team.

Then, things changed.

“On varsity, it was a big shock when we weren’t winning like we were when we were on frosh/soph,” Stauffer says.
But Stauffer pushed through it. He continued to take part in several different events at meets, and though it’s a tiring commitment, he says it’s never bothered him.

Rather, Stauffer likens it to a football game, where he’d be on the field for an offensive series and then get some rest before going out for the next drive.

In his first varsity season as a junior, he once again advanced to the Foothill League finals in four different events. He finished second in the 300 hurdles, behind only teammate and CIF-Southern Section Division II finalist Trevor Lien.

Stauffer also wound up fourth as part of the 4x100 relay team, seventh in the 110 hurdles and eighth in the 100.

His name was all over the results sheet. Unfortunately, once again, none of those results read “first place.”

“I really hope he gets his chance this year,” Guzman says. “He’s so talented, but it also speaks a lot for the league he’s competing in. You literally have some of the best kids in the nation all in one league. I think he does have that passion and fire.”

Stauffer admits the competition drives him, and it could drive him to the CIF-Southern Section finals next month.

Regardless, he’s already headed to UC San Diego on a partial track scholarship, a deal he finalized before the Arcadia Invitational in early April. He’ll apply the same intelligence he uses in track to his electrical engineering major.

Just don’t expect him to brag about it.

“I had to find out (about his scholarship) from his mom at Arcadia,” Guzman says. “I was like, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ He was like, ‘I didn’t think it was a big deal.’”

That’s how Stauffer goes about his business. Over the past few weeks, he’s hit the gym to improve his strength at the end of races. He’s practiced running on Mondays and hurdling the next couple of days before relaxing late in the week.

He won’t be relaxing on the weekends much longer. Foothill League finals are next Friday, followed by CIF meets the next four weekends, if he’s fortunate.

There, he’ll have a chance to showcase the same individual talents that others may forget about.

Even if they do, Stauffer’s helped make sure this Hart team will be remembered.

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