400-meter dash suits Jorgensen

Posted: Tuesday, May 06, 2003

When Flyte Jorgensen was 2 years old, a doctor told his parents, Dale and Gwen, that Flyte had an inherited condition in his feet that might not allow him to run and jump.

Obviously concerned, the Jorgensens took Flyte to a foot specialist. The doctor told the family to come back when Flyte was 12. At that time, the doctor would know whether Flyte needed surgery on what was diagnosed as hypermobile flat feet.

"We took him back when he was 12, and the doctor said he would not need surgery," Gwen said. "If everything went well, Flyte would be able to run and jump with the rest of them.

"Sure enough, he did."

Or, as it turns out, Flyte is running a bit faster than most of the rest of them.

Jorgensen continued a solid senior track and field season this past weekend when he won the 400-meter dash in 54.96 seconds at the Juneau Track and Field Meet.

While the inherited foot condition obviously could have been disastrous to Jorgensen's track career, Flyte inherited some characteristics from his father that are beneficial.

Dale ran the 400 meters when he was at Kenai Central High School and qualified for state in the event. Dale's best time in high school is 52 flat. He said if Flyte can beat that, he will earn $1,000.

Flyte currently has a personal best of 52.5 in the 400. As of last Thursday, nobody in the state had gone under 52 seconds his year in the 400.

"He's graduating a bit younger than I did, but he's probably stronger than I am," said Dale of Flyte, who will graduate at 17. "He hasn't run that many 400s yet."

Nikiski track and field coach Ned Clooten said he's not sure if Jorgensen will break 52 this year, but if he doesn't, it won't be for lack of effort.

"He's a hard worker," Clooten said of Jorgensen. "It's kind of been a challenge to find the race that suits him best, but I think we've finally found it in the quarter mile."

Clooten said the 400 is Jorgensen's event because the senior does not have great starts, but has a long stride that is suited to the long sprint.

The first-year coach said Jorgensen is just as valuable in his ability to lead the team as he is in his ability to lead a race.

"I know he's real quiet in the school halls," Clooten said. "But I know he's also looked up to in the halls.

"I look at him as a quiet leader. He's the first one I christened as a captain, not because he's vocal but because he leads by example."

Jorgensen said he started track and field in middle school in order to stay in shape.

However, he enjoyed the sport so much that it soon became his primary sport.

As a freshman, Jorgensen didn't get a chance to compete because he was living in Florida. As a sophomore, injuries cramped his season.

As a junior, Jorgensen started to have success. He was an alternate on Nikiski's 1,600-meter relay team that finished fourth in the state.

This year, Jorgensen has competed in the 100, 200 and 400, but Clooten said Jorgensen is most consistent in the 400.

Jorgensen also played varsity basketball for the Bulldogs, but unlike his brother, Miles, basketball is not his featured sport.

"I just do basketball to keep in shape," Jorgensen said.

In the classroom, Jorgensen said his grade point average is in the 3.0-to-3.5 range. He will go to college in Florida and pursue business management.

"Someday, I want to run my own business," Jorgensen said. "That's my dad's dream for me, too."

Dale, who has lived nearly his whole life in Nikiski, currently works for Tesoro, but he also is an entrepeneur.

"With the way the economy goes around here, it makes sense to get a business background," Dale said. "You might have to go out there someday and make your own niche."

Jorgensen's personality should give him the potential to do just that.

"He really makes friends very easily," Gwen said. "He's always had a diversity in friends. He's very likable, and it's wonderful to see that."

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