It's full speed ahead for star South River athlete Jason Fullmer has pick of sports, colleges

July 17, 1992|By Lem Satterfield | Lem Satterfield,Staff Writer

During the past year, every sports program that South River's Jason Fullmer was associated with became a winning one.

Last fall, the 6-foot-6, 170-pounder was the leading receiver as a tight end and was solid as a defensive back on a 9-2 Seahawks football team that reached the Class 3A state playoffs.

And, as the sixth or seventh man off the bench, Fullmer helped the Seahawks basketball team post a school record of 19-4. The team lost to eventual Class 3A state runner-up Potomac in the playoffs.

The spring season brought him to his best sport -- track -- and his marquee 110- and 300-meter hurdles events.

Fullmer was nothing short of superb, going undefeated in the 110 hurdles and winning all but the county championship race in the 300. He captured county, Region III and state titles in the 110, and regional and state crowns in the 300.

His efforts earned him The Anne Arundel County Sun's 1992 Male Track Athlete of the Year honors. And with his 3.3 grade-point average and 1,010 Scholastic Aptitude Test score, he has college recruiters knocking at his door.

"Jason's a terrific college prospect," said former Woodlawn track coach Dick Estes, Fullmer's personal hurdles coach during the summer. "He's got talent, leverage and, above all, interest. He challenges himself to get personal records in every event."

And Fullmer will be entering his senior season at South River this fall, so he's got a chance to improve on everything.

"I think his best is still ahead of him athletically," said Ken Dunn, Fullmer's basketball coach. "You can use all of the cliches with him that you hear coaches use for their great kids. I see a physical and mental maturity that is outstanding. He's coachable, and he's still not satisfied with what he's accomplished."

The fact is, though, that none of those sports were among Fullmer's first choices as a youngster.

"I started playing soccer and baseball when I was 7," said Fullmer, 17. "Then I got involved in football and basketball when I was 8. I've been playing both of those sports ever since.

"I had the same dreams as most little kids growing up. I wanted to be a big football and basketball star. I really didn't think of track. I never thought of myself as being extremely fast or anything."

But thanks primarily to the success of his older sister, Kim, who now runs track at Nebraska's Doan College, Fullmer began running track as a freshman.

"I was always known as 'Kim's little brother,' and everybody figured since we both had long legs, that I could run well also," said Fullmer, who dethroned Old Mill's Rocky McMillan to win the 110 hurdles in this year's county meet.

"Kim was a good teacher. And when we both won our two hurdles events in the regionals during my sophomore year, that was really special."

Fullmer recently laced on his track shoes as a decathlete (competing in 10 track and field events) for the first time this summer, and just like everything else he's tried, he excelled.

In his first decathlon competition two weeks ago at Auburn (Ala.) University, Fullmer took first place in both the 110 hurdles and the 100 -- en route to a fourth-place overall finish in The Athletic Congress' National Youth Athletic Association Championships.

A week later, Fullmer improved on that effort, placing third in the two-day, Amateur Athletic Union regional meet in Ambler, Pa. After the first day, Fullmer -- who finished with 5,845 points -- led the field with 3,270 points. Slowed by an ankle injury and nearly 100-degree heat on the second day, Fullmer failed to win a single event.

Yet Estes, Jason's father and personal coach, Craig, and Fullmer's personal decathlon coach Dana Hobbs, think their athlete will surpass his efforts before the summer is over. He's competing in both hurdles events in tomorrow's

East Coast Invitational track meet at Towson State University and tackling the AAU decathlon in early August in Rochester, Minn.

"This kid's right out of the mold of some of the world's best athletes, and he's just been exceptional to coach," said Estes. "He was an excellent hurdler last spring, but here's a guy who never did a lot of the things involved in the decathlon -- and he just blossomed. I think he'll break 6,000 points in Rochester. I mean, his potential is unlimited."

Fullmer is determined to play football again, come September. But, come winter, his track success may force him to make a decision -- between basketball and indoor track.

"Jason improved immensely in basketball," Dunn said. "Toward the end, he started a few games and was very instrumental in our season."

Fullmer said, "People have tried to talk me out of playing basketball, saying I could have three seasons [winter, spring and summer] before college. But I want to play basketball because it's my senior year.

"But I also love track because I've never been a star in any other sport, and because there's no one to blame for your mistakes but yourself. I know that next year everyone's going to come after me -- just like I came after Rocky [McMillan], because I knew he was the best. I just have to go out and do the best that I can do."

Usually, that equals victory.

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