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Scottow trades his spikes at North

The decision to switch allegiances in the spring sports season wasn't an easy one for North Medford's Jeremy Scottow, but it may prove to be the most beneficial for the senior.

As someone who has grown up with a baseball glove attached to his hand every spring, Scottow opted for a change of pace in his final season as a Black Tornado. The 5-foot-10, 170-pounder turned in his baseball cleats for a different pair of spikes as a member of North Medford's track and field sprint crew.

"It was not an easy decision for me at all," Scottow said Monday. "I kept going back-and-forth with it because, with baseball, I love the guys and I love the coaches. It was a hard decision to make but it was probably the best decision I could make for myself."

Scottow served primarily as a defensive specialist last year for the Black Tornado baseball team, playing shortstop when Bradey Shipley was on the mound and second base when Matt Maurer took the bump. He likely would've been asked to take on more responsibility as a senior since only he and designated hitter Jesse Hornbrook were expected to be returning starters.

Being a veteran part of that nucleus would've been just fine for Scottow, but a history of nagging injuries coming out of the season had him concerned as he looks to continue his football career this fall at the collegiate level. He's currently undecided on where he will play football next season but has a couple solid options.

"The past few years I've been coming out of baseball with groin and girdle injuries and that's kinda crippled me coming into the football season," he said. "I didn't want to be doing that going into college. I wanted to do something that would keep me in good shape and make me faster and help with my endurance. That's when I thought, 'Hey, North's got a great track program, why not try this out?'"

The initial results certainly side with Scottow's decision. In his first-ever track meet — at any level — Scottow won the 100 and 200 meters and was a member of the winning 4x100 relay team during last Tuesday's season opener against Crater.

"For being my first track meet, I was pretty nervous about how well I'd do," said Scottow. "I went in and really just wanted to beat Crater. I wanted to do whatever I could to help us do that."

Scottow's adjusted winning time of 11.54 seconds in the 100 ranks among the top 10 thus far at the Class 6A level, and his adjusted time of 23.94 in the 200 isn't too far off the pack. As the third leg in a relay that starts with Darren Cossette and Danny Formolo and wraps up with Jonathan McUne, Scottow helped the Black Tornado turn in a time of 44.54, also among the top 10.

"It was great winning all my events," said the 18-year-old sprinter. "I think I expected that of myself but that's just my competitive spirit. Anything less than that wouldn't have been competing up to par for me."

As strong of an early showing as that was for Scottow, it bears noting that recent Oregon signee Jack Galpin did not compete in the opener for Crater and likely will set the standard in the sprints this spring.

At this point, though, Scottow is just going off the faith he has in his coaches and teammates, especially good friends Formolo and McUne, to gauge his status as a sprinter.

"I'm honestly not aware of times at all," said Scottow. "I looked up the top state times and world record times and things like that, but I just don't have a gauge on a tenth of a second or a hundredth of a second and what that really means. I know if you're off by a hundredth you're pretty close and if you're off by a tenth it's not as close but that's about it. They're just pretty much telling me, 'Hey, good time,' and I'm just going with it."

Scottow's relative inexperience in the sport would've been more of a concern if not for the natural explosion he has in his steps, which made him such a threat as a wide receiver in football last fall. When he made the decision in the winter to take up track, Scottow knew he would be a sprinter and has enjoyed a fairly seamless transition.

"You don't have to pace yourself or anything in the 100 or 200," he said. "It's a full-out sprint so I don't have to worry about anything but running hard."

And, of course, getting out of the blocks without incident. He slipped out of the blocks against Crater but still had enough in the tank to catch everyone by the end of the race.

"The hardest part has been learning to get out of the blocks and the technique and all that but I think I'm picking it up pretty quick," said Scottow.

He credits Formolo and McUne with making him feel a natural part of the track team.

"They're great," he said. "They've worked with me and taught me stuff and made it so much fun."

Scottow said their biggest influence has been in their daily efforts on training days.

"The work ethic and how hard they've worked, it's really pushed me and I know the others around us," he said, "and that just makes us all work better."

Still, it has been a little odd seeing players head out to baseball practice and not joining along.

"I know the decision I made was right for me but when I first saw them going to practice, inside me I said I should be going out there because that's where I belong," added Scottow. "I'm still going to support all those guys and will try to go out and see them whenever I can, but this was the best decision for me."

In turn, Scottow said he's heard no complaints from his former teammates or coaches.

"I think they respected my decision and I was very happy with that," he said. "I think they respected that I'm not playing baseball just because I didn't want to and sitting home doing nothing. It helps that I'm doing another sport for North."

Reach reporter Kris Henry at 541-776-4488, or e-mail khenry@mailtribune.com. Follow him at twitter.com/Kris_Henry