Meade's ambitious leaper Going for gold: Damion Moss thinks he can win five state gold medals in indoor and outdoor competition.

February 21, 1996|By Bill Free | Bill Free,SUN STAFF

Meade's Damion Moss was only 8 years old when they put a high jump bar up in an elementary school gymnasium in Japan and he leaped over it.

No one else in his fourth-grade class could jump that high, prompting an ovation from the other youngsters.

Naturally, Moss loved the applause and admitted he jumped over the bar a few more times "to show off."

That was the beginning of the Damion Moss high jumping show that has continued in several cities before landing at Meade nearly three years ago when his mother, Carolyn, was transferred to Fort Meade by the U.S. Air Force.

Moss, the defending state 4A outdoor high jump champion with a leap of 6 feet, 6 inches, keeps his form sharp by practicing daily everywhere he goes.

"I'm always jumping up to see if I can touch the ceiling," he said. "I've always said the high jump and the hurdles are my two favorite events but I guess if you pressed me to pick out one, I'd say it was the high jump."

Moss, a senior, has also leaped 6-6 indoors, winning the Anne Arundel County relays last month with that jump.

But his high school coaches, Hayse Henderson and Jay Cuthbert, refuse to single out any one event that is Moss' specialty.

Versatility is the best tag for Damion, the coaches agreed. Henderson, the head coach, said: "No matter what event you put him in, he does well, except for long distances. I think some day he could be an Olympic-caliber athlete if they let him progress in college the next four years the way he has progressed here the past three."

Moss just received a full scholarship Monday to play football and run track at Howard University.

Moss (5-10, 170 pounds) was a first-team Baltimore Sun All-Metro selection as a defensive back last fall when he led the Mustangs to a 8-4 record and a semifinal berth in the state 4A playoffs.

He had 10 interceptions , including one in a 14-7 upset victory over previously unbeaten Arundel in the state quarterfinals.

However, indoor and outdoor track have taken center stage for Moss now and his goals are to win two gold medals (high jump and 55-meter hurdles) in the state 4A indoor championship meet today and three (high jump, 55 hurdles and long jump) in the state 4A outdoor meet this spring.

Moss is the defending outdoor 4A long jump champion with a 23-feet, 4-inch mark that was the best jump of all four classifications.

In indoor competition this season, Moss already has won the Anne Arundel 55 hurdles and high jump championships, took third in the 55 -- and ran on the 800 relay team that finished third.

He then went to the regionals and qualified for the states in four events, winning the 55 hurdles, taking second in the high jump and 55 -- and running on the second-place 800relay team.

With each victory more and more attention has been focused on Moss and he admits to being a little surprised. "I knew I could be good in track and football but I never thought I'd get this much coverage," he said.

"I owe a lot of thanks to my mother, who told me to go ahead and play two sports and not worry about working. She is the first in line to see me play football but when it comes to track, she says she is bad luck for me."

But nothing will keep Carolyn Moss away from the state indoor championships today.

"She'll be there and I want to win the two golds to prove to her that it's only her superstition that I sometimes finish second when she is in the stands," he said.

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