Once you get past the obvious jokes about San Bernardino track & field coach Mike Powell’s name, it’ll be time to get this column underway.

Let’s yuck it up right now — yes, the world long jump record holder is a guy named Mike Powell. No, it’s not the same guy that coaches at SBVC.

He probably hopes the athletes he recruits, coaches and sends on to 4-year colleges that they know the sport well enough to acknowledge the world mark in that event.

Truth is, SBVC’s Mike Powell is seeking athletes to fill his roster.

It’s almost scary to think what kind of statewide powerhouse SBVC could become if that roster ever reached capacity. It’s not, for some reason, and there’s some mysteries why SBVC hasn’t reached that optimum point.

Let’s see, there’s a well-trained coach who has the expertise.

Check out those state-of-the-art facilities at SBVC.

Distance-running stars get brought in by cross country coach Jim Ratigan.

Neighboring Riverside City College has won six overall state men’s titles since 2008. While RCC’s women won a couple way back in the early 1990s, would it interest anyone that the Lady Tigers had someone in virtually every state finals event in 2018?

Both women’s relays ran second place.

SBVC’s in that same kind of gold-mine zone for athletes.

Powell’s already got himself some athletes. I think he’s trying to close up some myths or disbeliefs about JUCO programs. To launch the place into its rightful winning zone.

Once they arrive, it’s on. Training. Competing. Going after PRs. School records. A state finals berth.

“When they see that 44 on the (record) board,” says Powell, referring to the school’s men’s 400-meter mark, “they can’t believe it. Their eyes are wide open. They’re like,’someone can run that fast?’ ”

That would be Olympian Tyree Washington who ran that 44 -- a 44.28, to be exact.

At the San Andreas League finals that Powell was recruiting from, it was a total feast. Surrounded by sprinters, hurdlers, jumpers, shot putters, young men and women, it was easy to see why there was a smile on his face.

Next day would be the Citrus Belt League finals in Yucaipa. Bigger smiles, perhaps. Faster times. Longer distances. More power.

Powell has some true advantages in recruiting that 4- year colleges and universities may not have.

“Not everyone’s ready for a 4-year college,” says Powell.

“I don’t want to offend them by saying this: Some kids aren’t ready for a four-year college right after high school.”

Thirty three percent return home by that first Thanksgiving. Too overwhelming.

“I can help with that,” says Powell. “I want parents to understand.”

Some of their kids aren’t ready. Too young.

“When I’m able to talk to the parents, I can explain it all to them.”

Not that he’s trying to step on anyone’s dream. From all the cushy surroundings of high school to a faraway college campus can prove daunting.

Better to have a middle man, right? Powell figures he can provide that middle-man experience.

At the San Andreas League finals over at San Bernardino Arroyo Valley, Powell consulted with San Gorgonio senior Alexis White.

Moments earlier, White has expressed her goals: To attend Cal State Monterey Bay, run track and study. “They have my major,” she said. “Nursing.”

Sounds good, right?

Powell, meanwhile, convinced her to fill out a questionnaire, you know, just in case.

“Getting books and tuition paid for is nice,” said Powell, “but Monterey’s a pretty costly area to live.”

A student’s general education requirements can be knocked out at a two-year JUCO program, he says.

“My goal,” he said, “is for those students to finish college debt-free.”

Those numbers might sound better than a 3:17 in the 4 x 400 relay, or a

13.49 110-meter hurdles time.

Debt-free?

By the way, the other Mike Powell set the world long jumping record in 1991, connecting on an incredible 29-foot, 2 ¼-inch effort in Tokyo.

Just so long as we know which guy is which.

Got a sports tip, some rumblings or just want to chat about sports? Hit me up at baseballolb@hotmail.com.

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