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Golden Valley's James Chevious has surprised on the track

Senior is excelling at sport he picked up for first time

Posted: April 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.
Updated: April 21, 2013 2:00 a.m.

Golden Valley senior James Chevious has spent two 0-10 seasons on the Grizzlies varsity basketball team. This spring, he's joined the school's track and field team and is finding unexpected success as one of the Foothill League's top sprinters.

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On March 21, James Chevious experienced his first Foothill League win as a Golden Valley Grizzly.

The senior had to admit, it felt pretty good when Golden Valley’s boys track and field team beat West Ranch 82-54 in the league-opening meet.

Now the Grizzlies are 3-0 in league meets, which is three more wins than Chevious ever got to enjoy in his two years playing varsity basketball at the school.

“From a kid who came from an 0-10 basketball team (this season), it would be great to finish a season undefeated,” Chevious says.

Looking back on it, it’s almost comical how James Chevious began his track and field career.

In a nutshell, a few people suggested he try out for the team and the senior said to himself, “OK, I’ll give it a shot,”

And Golden Valley track and field head coach Jon Quam, admittedly skeptical, said, “Yeah, you can come out.”

But it didn’t take long for either side to realize this was a lot more than a shot in the dark for Chevious, a longtime basketball player.

Now, it has become something for the senior to rally around.

Just a few months into the first track season of his life, Chevious is already one of the top sprinters in the Foothill League and he’s showing the potential to make noise beyond the Santa Clarita Valley.

“Every day I run it’s kind of surprising to me because I never really knew that I was fast,” Chevious says. “So when I came out for track and I was running, not only did it shock my coaches, it shocked me.”

At first, he joined the track team to help build strength and agility for basketball, the sport he’s been playing since age 3.

It’s a sport that always brought Chevious and his dad, Jim, together.

Although he goes by Jim, his given names is James Chevious Jr., which makes his son James Chevious III. Close friends often call the Golden Valley senior “Trey,” because he’s the third of his generation.

Through the years, Jim Chevious went to virtually every one of James’ basketball games.

It was just about all James ever did. There were the recreational leagues, travel ball teams, one year for the freshman team at Golden Valley and three years of varsity high school ball — two for Golden Valley and one for Hart. James moved to Hart High’s area prior to his junior year, prompting him to transfer schools for a season.

A second move put James back with the majority of his friends at Golden Valley, where the basketball team’s struggles continued. Though James led his team with 14.7 points per game and also added 3.5 assists, 4.1 rebounds and 2.9 steals per contest, he felt the sting of the 0-10 Foothill record.

At the end of the season, the idea of running track came up when James’ dad and a few of his friends brought it up.

The simple idea turned into something much bigger on March 23.

It was the Pasadena Games, a track and field event featuring several prominent high school teams around Southern California, where James broke the Golden Valley school record in the 400-meter dash by finishing in 49.65 seconds. He was the first Golden Valley Grizzly to ever break 50 seconds in the event.

“This is a great situation that happened on a whim,” says Jim Chevious. “It’s like, ‘You know what, let’s run track.’”

Track and field is no longer a basketball training session for James. It’s a new passion that he stumbled upon almost accidentally. It just took him a while to convince the coaches he was for real.

“When he first told (Sara Soltani), our sprints coach, I was like, ‘Hmm, but he’s a basketball player,” Quam remembers thinking.

It’s true, basketball is his first love, but he’s also extremely quick and a highly gifted athlete with a relentless work ethic. Those attributes are useful in any sport.

“For someone who had never run track and field, it was astonishing and a shame that he hadn’t run in the past,” Soltani says. “I’m grateful that he came out because I’m sure no one ever would have known how fast he is.”

Some have suspected all along Chevious had the speed and grit to put up the kind of numbers he is.

James’ classmate Leon Jacobs, a fellow basketball player and sprinter, also had a hand in luring James onto the track.

Jacobs explained that James’ ability to change direction so quickly in basketball helps him get a burst of speed around corners in events like the 200 and 400 meters.

Just like everyone else, Jacobs has been impressed with his classmate and friend.

“In basketball, he worked hard, but in track, I respected him because of the determination and how hard he works,” Jacobs says. “I haven’t told him yet, but I’m really proud of him.”

In addition to James’ record-breaking 400 time, he also owns the Foothill League’s current best 200 time of the season, a wind-aided, hand-timed 21.64 seconds.

Jacobs and James are also part of the Foothill’s best 4x400 relay time of 3:26.96.

And for every head-turning mark he puts up on the track, James just wants to make it one notch better.

“I think he’s finding a true passion in track and field,” Soltani says. “It’s new to him. He’s so good at it that he’s ready to go and ready to work hard. He’s asking me what he can do on the weekends to improve.”

Colleges were already expressing interest in James before track came into the picture. Now, even more college athletic programs, such as Hampton University and Cal State Fullerton, are clamoring to get James on campus.

They see the same motivated, competitive athlete that all his coaches do.

James says he’s still trying to run away from the 0-10 basketball season. Evidently, he’s also running toward something better.



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