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Canyon Track Star Ready for the Fast Lane
June, 2007 - Issue #32
Canyon sprinter/hurdler Trevor Habberstad doesn't have to think very long to remember his worst day on the track.

It took place at the Foothill league finals two years ago, when he was just a sophomore.

Habberstad, already the surprise league champion in the 100 high hurdles, was coming around the turn, about 200 meters into the 300-meter hurdle finals.

He had the lead and he had fuel to burn. He was on his way to another league title and he knew it.

What he didn't know, however, was that the next hurdle was going to reach up and scrape the bottom of his shoe.

It wasn't much of a scrape, but it was enough.

Habberstad went down, skidding across the track at College of the Canyons while runners not nearly as fast as him raced by.

He got to his feet and sprinted to the finish, passing a pair of runners to take fourth overall. It was a remarkable recovery for a young man in his first high school season of track and field. Everyone was impressed. Everyone, that is, except Habberstad himself.

He stalked away from the finish line, his face buried in his hands.

"I was pretty devastated," Habberstad says. "I knew I could have demolished the field."

If Habberstad sounds confident, that's because he is. He has every reason to be. On a Cowboy team that has been ranked in the top 10 nationally this year, Habberstad is the top athlete.

Heading into the postseason, his personal best time in the 110 high hurdles stood at 14.02 seconds, one hundredth of a second off the Foothill League record.

In the 300 hurdles, Habberstad's PR at season's end was 37.99 - nine one hundredths of a second behind the league record.

His times rank him in the top three in the state in both events and have him eyeing a possible state title in one or both.

"I'm the fastest in the CIF Division I in the 300 and the 110," Habberstad says. "I think I can get to state. From there, there's always a good chance I can win. Stuff happens."

"I'm showing people that a GOOD RUNNER can come from anywhere. It's cool to go to a big meet where people have NO IDEA who I am. Then the race starts and they go, 'Wow, where did that come from?,'
~ Trevor Habberstad
Habberstad, always a stellar performer at Canyon, announced his presence to a wider world at the Mount SAC Invitational in April. Against the top competition in Southern California, he posted his 14:02 in the 110 high hurdles.

"I told people I wanted to break 14:00 and they would say, 'Come one, Trevor, be realistic,'" he says. "After that, they were saying, 'Hey, he's a lot faster and he works a lot harder than we think.'"

Really, they should have known.

Habberstad broke into the talented Cowboy varsity ranks as a sophomore "transfer" from Santa Clarita Christian. Already an accomplished sprinter in junior high, he switched from SCCS because he wanted to run track.

"He tried to work it out so that he could run with the Cowboys even though he was here," says SCCS football coach Garrick Moss. "But that wasn't going to happen."

Moss, who recognized Habberstad's speed even when he was a freshman, put him on the varsity football squad as a wide receiver to stretch defenses.

"He could run past guys who were three, four years older than him. He was quick. And he's a great athlete. I hated to see him go, but he did the right thing, obviously."

Habberstad isn't big. He stands 5 feet 11 and weighs 155 pounds. But as Moss said, he's an outstanding athlete. So outstanding, in fact, that he can do more tips on the track and field than his team is able to exploit.

In high school track and field, athletes are permitted to compete in no more than four events. But Trevor could compete in - and probably win - eight or nine.

The 100-meter dash. The 400. The 4x400 and 4x100 relays. The long jump and the high jump. The hurdle races.

Habberstad can do them all and do them well.

How well?

In April, he accepted a full-ride scholarship to join the track and field team at Washington State University... as a decathlete.

"The first time I saw him run the hurdles I knew he was a good athlete," says Canyon track coach Paul Broneer. "It takes a certain kind of athlete to run the hurdles. You have to be fearless. You have to go over a barrier that's pretty high, and there are 10 of them."

Habberstad, who turned down a scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas and its multiple national title-winning track and field program, has one big advantage when it comes to running the hurdles. He trains with a two-time Olympic medalist in the 1000 high hurdles.

Santa Clarita resident Mark Crear won a silver medal in 1996 and a bronze in 2000. His help has made all the difference.

"The mental preparation for the hurdles has a lot to do with Mark," Habberstad says. "And it's definitely a huge thing that my coach can still kick my butt. When he tells me something, I believe it."

Habberstad also believes in himself. Broneer says he "hates to lose," and Habberstad agrees. That's because he doesn't think he ever should lose.

"I have to win. I've got to win," Habberstad says. "I'll do whatever it takes to win. A lot of people think I'm cocky, but I'm just confident. I need that swagger in my head."

Habberstad particularly enjoys surprising opponents who just don't expect the kind of speed he brings to the track. "Skinny" by his own admission, he knows he doesn't exactly look like a prototypical track star.

"I'm showing people that a good runner can come from anywhere," he says. "It's cool to go to a big meet where people have no idea who I am. Then the race starts and they go, 'Wow, where did that come from?'"

Habberstad hopes to finish his high school career on the medal podium at the state finals. But he knows as well as anyone how cruel his sport can be.

A false start or a slow start can cost him a race.

So can a missed hurdle.

At his level, there's just a sliver of space between the top of those hurdles and the tips of his spikes.

Habberstad knows it. He remembers it. He also remembers what he did when the last hurdle took him down.

"If I fall, I'm going to get up quick," he says. "I'm going to run as fast as I can."

He always does. It's the only speed he knows.
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