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Spartan track star creates own legacy, with some help from his mom

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© Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Anthony Teart of the Rio Mesa High track andfield team enjoyed a great four-year run with the Spartans. Teart, who graduates from RMHS today, will join the track squad at Cal State Northridge. © Richard Gillard/Acorn Newspapers
Anthony Teart was running for his life a year ago.

Teart joined Rio Mesa High’s talented boys’ 4×400-meter relay quartet before the 2012 CIFSouthern Section preliminaries.

He didn’t want to be the weak link on a relay squad with state championship aspirations.

“I was nervous the whole time. . . .” said Teart, who replaced the injured Drew Weisenberger. “I saw how much success they were having, and I didn’t want to be the guy that messed everything up.”

Teart turned out to be the ingredient that gave the Spartans the necessary boost to win a state title. Rio Mesa’s times improved with Teart, and the 4×400 relay captured the state title with a time of 3 minutes, 16.21 seconds.

The Spartan went from nervous wreck to senior leader in one year.

“Being on that relay with Darion Zimmerman, Blake Selig, Cameron Roach really helped me grow into a leader,” said Teart, one of the top hurdlers in Ventura County this spring. “I was mentally psyching myself out, but the guys gave me support.”

Teart advanced to the Masters meet at Cerritos College last month in the 110 hurdles. The four-year varsity Spartan had the fastest time in the county in the 110 hurdles (14.30 seconds) and the second fastest mark in the 300 hurdles (38.59 seconds) this year.

“It feels like just yesterday I was on campus starting my first day of high school,” said Teart, who graduates today. “It was a great four years. I’m going to miss working with all my teammates and coaches.”

Teart will suit up for the Cal State Northridge track and field team next year. He decided to become a Matador last month.

“I don’t think Anthony thought he would go to a Division I school last season,” said Angela Burnham, Teart’s mother. “He has blossomed into a top athlete. He wasn’t that serious about track, but once he started training yearround, you definitely noticed his improvement.”

Teart’s first sport was basketball. The senior Spartan was a top guard on Rio Mesa’s boys’ basketball team.

He played in this year’s county high school basketball all-star game for the West team.

Not only did Teart excel in the hurdles, he also thrived in the triple jump and 400. Teart runs the 400 in 49 seconds, and his best triple jump is 46 feet.

“He is a very versatile athlete,” said Brian FitzGerald, who just completed his 33rd season as head coach of the Rio Mesa track and field team. “He scored many points for us in different events.

“It was a rebuilding year for us and having Anthony was big. It’s good to have a good senior kid that leads by example.”

Teart inherited his athleticism from Burnham, a five-time state champion for Rio Mesa from 1986-89.

Burnham won the state crown in the 100 three times and two more titles in the 200.

Teart doesn’t like to brag about his mother, who went on to run for the UCLA women’s track and field team.

“My mom was a great runner for Rio Mesa, but I wanted to make a name for myself,” Teart said. “My mom still has a quick step. She probably could have beat me in the 100 and 200 if we were in high school together.”

FitzGerald coached Burnham and Teart.

“I knew Anthony would get the best high school coaching from Brian and his staff,” Burnham said. “I remember I was his guinea pig.

“(FitzGerald) didn’t know much about sprints when he coached me, and now he’s the sprinting expert.”

Teart never advanced to state as an individual. He does, however, have a 4×400 state championship on his track resume.

“He beats me there,” Burnham said. “I never did that with my relay teams. I wish I could have experienced that.”

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