State Athlete of Year: Kenan Christon

State Boys Athlete of the Year Kenan Christon (left) flashes the USC “V” for victory sign at one of his track meets last spring. He also was a three-year varsity standout in football for San Diego Madison and will compete in both sports as a freshman for the Trojans. Photos: KUSI.com & @TeamMakasi / Twitter.com.


There’s been a run of phenomenal football player-track sprinters in the last 10 years in California that have been selected as State Boys Athlete of the Year, so when we have one who this year turned in the best 100-meter and 200-meter times than any of them — and top five in state history in both events — that kind of makes it hard not to add him to the all-time list. The San Diego Madison standout, who is going to be playing football as a running back at USC, is the first from the San Diego area in 10 years to be State Athlete of the Year and is only the third since 1976.

For the rundown on the other 2018-19 State Boys Athletes of the Year, CLICK HERE.

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Heading into the 2018-19 school year, there had been four State Boys Athletes of the Year who were football and track two-sport standouts and another who was football, track and basketball in just the last 10 years. Just last year, Tulare’s Kazmeir Allen was the overall winner after scoring a national record 72 touchdowns in football and winning the 100-meter dash final at the CIF state track meet.

None of those five, however, and actually no one who has ever been a football-track standout in California history has clocked faster times in the 100-meter and 200-meter sprint events than what recent Madison of San Diego grad Kenan Christon turned in last spring. That’s why this week Kenan has been named as the 2018-19 State Boys Athlete of the Year.

In just the last month of his senior season, Christon lowered his p.r. in the 200 from around 21.30 seconds to 20.6. Photo: Twitter.com.


Christon is the first State Boys Athlete of the Year from the CIF San Diego Section since football-baseball player Tyler Gaffney of Cathedral Catholic for the 2008-09 school year. He’s also only the fourth since 1975 with the other two being Chase Budinger of La Costa Canyon (basketball, volleyball) for 2005-06 and Greg Louganis of El Cajon Valhalla for 1975-76 (diving).

Let’s get the track part of Christon’s accomplishments out the way first.

At this year’s CIF state finals in Clovis, it was expected to be a showdown between Christon and another football/track athlete, Christian Grubb from Notre Dame of Sherman Oaks. But Christon was just too overwhelming. He took the 100 title in a wind-legal time of 10.30, which tied the state meet record time of 10.30 set by San Diego Southwest’s Riley Washington in 1992 (which also was the last time a San Diego sprinter won gold in that event). In the 200, Christon blazed to the tape first once again and clocked a wind-legal mark of 20.69.

In Kenan’s last four 100 races of the high school season, he hit 10.26 (wind-aided), 10.33, 10.32 and 10.30. His last four 200 races (all held on the same day at the 100s) were equally impressive: 20.55, 20.65, 20.67 and 20.69.

In looking at the updated all-time state record lists compiled by our former colleague, Rich Gonzalez of PrepCalTrack.com, Christon stands in the top five in the 100 (wind-legal 10.30) and in the top five in the 200 (wind-legal 20.55). Who are the only two others who can say the same? One is Olympic 400-meter gold medalist Quincy Watts when he was at Taft of Woodland Hills in the late 1980s while the other is 2016 State Athlete of the Year Michael Norman of Vista Murrieta (who may be an Olympic star next summer in Tokyo). Bottom line is that even without adding in football that Kenan would have been hard to beat as State Athlete of the Year.

Christon wasn’t just a sprinter, either. He skipped the long jump at the state meet to concentrate on the 100 and 200, but he won the CIF San Diego Section title with a leap of 23 feet, 0 inches and earlier in the spring launched out to 24 feet, 0 inches.

It could be argued that Christon doesn’t have the football accomplishments of some of the other recent State Athletes of the Year. His overall three-year varsity totals of 3,042 yards rushing and 40 touchdowns are not bad, but certainly not when compared to what Kazmeir Allen did. He had 40 touchdowns in just the first seven or eight games of his senior season.

Comparisons to Reggie Bush, who also went from the San Diego area to USC, probably are inevitable for Kenan Christon. Photo: Twitter.com.


The highlight of Kenan’s football career was rushing for more than 800 yards and returning kicks as a sophomore when Madison went to Sacramento State for the CIF Division 2-A state title game and came home with a state championship after defeating Valley Christian of San Jose. He had more than 1,200 yards rushing as a junior and just over 900 as a senior.

As a 5-foot-10, 185-pounder with the kind of obvious world-class speed that he has, however, the college coaches recruiting him didn’t pay attention to stats. Christon was a much more heavily recruited football player than many with big-time stats (including Kazmeir Allen from the year before). He had 26 offers and his top five came down to Alabama, USC, UCLA, Notre Dame and Stanford. Kenan chose USC and already is getting some attention for his efforts in fall camp.

Christon also was a finalist for the annual San Diego Silver Pigskin Trophy awarded each year by San Diego TV station KUSI. He finished in third-place behind only Jahmon McClendon of Spring Valley Monte Vista and Mac Bingham of Torrey Pines. Already this summer he also has been selected as the Gatorade Boys Track Athlete of the Year for California.

Off the track and away from the field, Kenan compiled a GPA of more than 3.83 to earn academic honors from his school. He also completed 145 hours of volunteer work with the Clairemont Youth Football & Cheer program in San Diego.

At USC, the plan apparently is for Christon to continue the pursuit of football and track glory at least for his first freshman year.

“It will be a passion thing for me,” Christon told San Diego Union-Tribune columnist Mark Ziegler. “It’s just all about which one I have the love for more at the end of whatever the timespan is that I’m still doing both. We’ll just have to see.”

Ziegler also profiled Kenan’s dad, Kenan Christon Sr., who is a custodian at Madison and who is originally from Dayton, Ohio (so we obviously hope there were no relatives of the Christon family involved in the mass shooting). According to the column, Christon Sr. gave up his own athletic pursuits just after high school due to being a young father of Kenan Jr.’s older brother.

Now, the son’s pursuits include dreaming of the Olympics and playing in the NFL. And it will only take a few clicks on a phone or laptop for his father to see his son’s name right up there with some of the other State Boys Athletes of the Year in California for the last 100 years.

ALL-TIME CAL-HI SPORTS
STATE BOYS ATHLETES OF THE YEAR

(Selected by Cal-Hi Sports)

The 1945-46 State Athlete of the Year, George Stanich of Sacramento McClatchy, is on the left in this photo taken of the cover of the first men’s basketball media guide at UCLA (which is typewritten) after the legendary John Wooden became head coach in 1948. Photo: Cal-Hi Sports archives.


2018-19 – Kenan Christon, San Diego Madison (football, track)
2017-18 – Kazmeir Allen, Tulare (football, track)
2016-17 – Javelin Guidry, Murrieta Vista Murrieta (football, track)
2015-16 – Michael Norman, Murrieta Vista Murrieta (track)
2014-15 – T.J. DeFalco, Huntington Beach (volleyball)
2013-14 – Nick Nevills, Clovis (football, wrestling)
2012-13 – Khalfani Muhammad, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, track)
2011-12 – Khalfani Muhammad, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, track)
2010-11 – Marqise Lee, Gardena Serra (football, basketball, track)
2009-10 – Robert Woods, Gardena Serra (football, track)
2008-09 – Tyler Gaffney, San Diego Cathedral Catholic (football, baseball)
2007-08 – German Fernandez, Riverbank (cross country, track)
2006-07 – Mike (Giancarlo) Stanton, Sherman Oaks Notre Dame (football, basketball, baseball)
2005-06 – Chase Budinger, Carlsbad La Costa Canyon (basketball, volleyball)
2004-05 – Drew Shiller, Burlingame (football, basketball, baseball)
2003-04 – Kenny O’Neal, Oakland Skyline (football, track)
2002-03 – Steve Smith, Woodland Hills Taft (football, basketball, track)
2001-02 – Aaron Piersol, Newport Beach Newport Harbor (swimming)
2000-01 – Antwon Guidry, San Jose Leigh (football, basketball, track)
1999-00 – D.J. Williams, Concord De La Salle (football, track)
1998-99 – Chris Lewis, Long Beach Poly (football, volleyball)
1997-98 – C.C. Sabathia, Vallejo (football, basketball, baseball)
1996-97 – Ken-Yon Rambo, Long Beach Poly (football, track)
1995-96 – Chris Claiborne, Riverside J.W. North (football, basketball)
1994-95 – Eric Guerrero, San Jose Independence (wrestling)
1993-94 – McKay Christensen, Fresno Clovis West (football, baseball)
1992-93 – Calvin Harrison, Salinas North Salinas (track, basketball)
1991-92 – Jason Kidd, Alameda St. Joseph (basketball, baseball)
1990-91 – Rob Johnson, El Toro (football, basketball, baseball)
1989-90 – Ryan Hancock, Cupertino Monta Vista (football, baseball)
1988-89 – Lorenzo Neal, Lemoore (football, wrestling)
1987-88 – Adam Keefe, Irvine Woodbridge (basketball, volleyball)
1986-87 – LeRon Ellis, Santa Ana Mater Dei (water polo, basketball, track)
1985-86 – Brian Johnson, Oakland Skyline (football, baseball)
1984-85 – George Porter, Lompoc Cabrillo (basketball, track)
1983-84 – John Williams, L. A. Crenshaw (basketball)
1982-83 – Mike Smith, Hacienda Heights Los Altos (football, basketball, volleyball)
1981-82 – Jim McCullough, Hemet (football, wrestling)
1980-81 – Kevin Willhite, Rancho Cordova (football, track)
1979-80 – Darryl Strawberry, L.A. Crenshaw (basketball, baseball)
1978-79 – John Elway, Granada Hills (football, baseball)
1977-78 – Jesse Vasallo, Mission Viejo (swimming)
1976-77 – Brian Goodell, Mission Viejo (swimming)
1975-76 – Greg Louganis, El Cajon Valhalla & Santa Ana (diving)
1974-75 – Bill Cartwright, Elk Grove (basketball)
1973-74 – Tim Shaw, Long Beach Wilson (water polo, swimming)
1972-73 – Lonnie Shelton, Bakersfield Foothill (football, track)
1971-72 – Scott McGregor, El Segundo (baseball)
1970-71 – Anthony Davis, San Fernando (football, baseball)
1969-70 – James McAlister, Pasadena Blair (football, track)
1968-69 – Jeff Burroughs, Long Beach Wilson (football, baseball)
1967-68 – Mark Spitz, Santa Clara (water polo, swimming)
1966-67 – Mickey Cureton, Compton Centennial (football)
1965-66 – Tim Danielson, Chula Vista (track)
1964-65 – Paul Wilson, Downey Warren (track)
1963-64 – Don Schollander, Santa Clara (water polo, swimming)
1962-63 – Tommie Smith, Lemoore (football, basketball, track)
1961-62 – Forrest Beaty, Glendale Hoover (track)
1960-61 – Ulis Williams, Compton (track)
1959-60 – Dennis Ralston, Bakersfield (tennis)
1958-59 – Dale Story, Orange (track)
1957-58 – Willie Davis, L. A. Roosevelt (basketball, baseball, track)
1956-57 – Bill Kilmer, Azusa Citrus (football, basketball, baseball)
1955-56 – Fred Lacour, S.F. St. Ignatius (basketball)
1954-55 – Dick Bass, Vallejo (football)
1953-54 – Don Bowden, San Jose Lincoln (track)
1952-53 – Ronnie Knox, Santa Monica (football)
1951-52 – Marty Keough, Pomona (football, basketball, baseball)
1950-51 – Charlie Powell, San Diego (football, baseball)
1949-50 – Lang Stanley, L.A. Jefferson (track)
1948-49 – John Henry Johnson, Pittsburg (football, basketball, track)
1947-48 – Bob Mathias, Tulare (football, track)
1946-47 – Bill McColl, San Diego Hoover (football, basketball, baseball)
1945-46 – George Stanich, Sacramento (basketball, baseball, track)
1944-45 – Jackie Jensen, Oakland (football, baseball)
1943-44 – Bill Sharman, Porterville (football, basketball, baseball)
1942-43 – Glenn Davis, La Verne Bonita (football, baseball)
1941-42 – Irv Noren, Pasadena (basketball, baseball)
1940-41 – Tommie Fears, Los Angeles Manual Arts (football)
1939-40 – Howie Dallmar, San Francisco Lowell (basketball, baseball)
1938-39 – Jim Jurkovich, Fresno (football, track)
1937-38 – Frankie Albert, Glendale (football, baseball, tennis)
1936-37 – Jackie Robinson, Pasadena Muir (football, basketball, baseball)
1935-36 – Bobby Doerr, Los Angeles Fremont (pro baseball)
1934-35 – Ted Williams, San Diego Hoover (baseball)
1933-34 – Hank Luisetti, San Francisco Galileo (basketball)
1932-33 – Don Budge, Oakland University (tennis)
1931-32 – Corney Johnson, Los Angeles (track)
1930-31 – Frank Sobrero, Oakland (football, basketball, baseball)

Note: List continues back to 1890-91 in the Cal-Hi Sports State Record Book & Almanac. All selections prior to 1978-79 done retroactively through research by our founder, the late Nelson Tennis.

Mark Tennis is the co-founder and publisher of CalHiSports.com. He can be reached at markjtennis@gmail.com. Don’t forget to follow Mark on the Cal-Hi Sports Twitter handle: @CalHiSports


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2 Comments

  1. raiderlaz18
    Posted August 11, 2019 at 7:39 pm | Permalink

    when are they having the ranking like for Pittsburg High School and our first game vs St. Mary’s High School

    • Mark Tennis
      Posted August 12, 2019 at 10:51 am | Permalink

      Preseason state top 50 package will be out in a few days.

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