Summarized by Rosemary Pollock
LDS Teen Follows Father in Track & Field
MISSION VIEJO, CALIFORNIA -- Jacob Gustafsson, son of former Olympic
silver medalist Bo Gustafsson, moved to Mission Viejo four years ago
with his mother after his parents divorce. His mother desired to
live in a community where they could follow their Mormon faith. "We
felt like we were meant to move here," Gustafsson said. "You know
when you're religious, you might feel like a spirit is telling you to
go somewhere? My mother felt like she needed to move here."
Gustafsson's father, Bo, remained in Sweden and receives annual
visits from his son. Bo was a silver medalist in the 1984 Olympics
in Los Angeles. He medaled in the 50-kilometer racewalk and is
currently the national record-holder in the event. Jacob competed in
racewalking and running events while growing up in Sweden and ran his
first marathon at age 10. He ran the L.A. marathon shortly after his
l5th birday with a time of 3 hours 10 minutes and was the fourth-best
in the 17 and under division.
At 16 Gustafsson has experienced a successful sophomore track and
field season at Mission Viejo High. He quickly joined the top ranks
as the youngest runner to qualify for the Southern Section Division I
finals in the 800 meters finishing sixth in 1:56:45. He also won the
Division II junior race at the Laguna Hills Invitational on
September, 9. In Saturday's Woodbridge Invitational he finished
fourth in the Division I Junior race with a time of 15:42 in the
Coach Gene Gurule encourages his Mission Viejo athletes to race
against the best. "They're going to have to run with these guys
sooner or later," Gurule said. He would like Gustafsson to focus on
the 3,200 meters this spring but feels he isn't ready to compare him
to 1997 Times Orange County runner of the year. "Gleason was nails,"
Gurule said. "He didn't let too many runners get passed him."
Gustafsson doesn't let Gurule's comparison keep him from making some
of his own. "I beat [Gleason's] freshman record in the 1,600 and I
beat his sophomore record in the 1,600 so I'm ahead of him right
now," Gustafsson said.
The Mission Viejo Diablos will vie for their fourth consecutive South
Coast League title in the upcoming weeks. Expecting to face stiff
competition from top-ranked Dana Hills and fourth-ranked El Toro,
Gustafsson says, "We always come together at league finals." "That's
why we've won it three years in a row now."
For Gustafsson, It's Run, Don't Walk
Los Angeles Times 19Sep00 S2
By Dan Arritt