Team Keron invades the WAC meet
KERON Francis' spears fly through the air like they should come with their own soundtrack, a soaring score like the one that accompanied those Roy Hobbs home runs. His javelin heaves just keep going, up, up, up. They cry out for music, something majestic. But alas, they fly through the air in silence. The only noise that comes is when he lets that javelin go:
It is enough.
"That just gave me goose bumps," Dixie Anderson said yesterday at the WAC Outdoor Track and Field Championships at UH. "That scream of his!" She was bursting. Swooning. Glowing. And there it was, his greatest accomplishment.
Boise State's Francis would win the Western Athletic Conference javelin championship yesterday, won it by a mile (his season-best distance was second in the nation heading into this week's meets). He won the long jump by mere centimeters, in a tense competition that went down to the final leap. He won it after jogging from the javelin runway to the track, going back and forth between the two events.
"This guy's the man all the way around, isn't he?" a fan in the stands said. Um, yes. Two gold medals by 4:30 in the afternoon. And yet of all his great feats the one most superhuman is this: His mother-in-law thinks he's a saint.
"He's still got them convinced," Keron's wife, Mindy, said, laughing, nodding to her parents, Dixie and Russ.
Oh, yes, he does. Dixie threw around words like "compassion," "integrity," "dedication," "soft-spoken," "gentle." Wow.
"We certainly do love our son-in-law," she said. She said that everybody does. "Such a good-natured person," she said.
He tries, he would later say. "It's great living the family life," he said after getting off the medal stand. "You've got a lot of people behind you."
He does, this week. No doubt. They're all here. His wife -- they've been married for the last several months -- her two boys, Caleb, 9, Mikah, 6. Her parents. Team Keron, in full force. This is a vacation/honeymoon/adventure/track-meet trip.
After the competition the two kids ate ice cream, one wearing a gold medal, the other an award-stand flower lei.
Keron is from Grenada, Mindy a Boise girl. They met through friends, fell in love. Mindy works now while Keron's in school. Then, as Dixie put it, they'll pull "the switcheroo." Keron said he's ready to put down roots in Boise, maybe work in TV production at a local station there.
He started throwing the javelin because his cousin threw the javelin and he would fetch it for him, play around, toss it back. The cousin's coach saw this one day, and wasn't dumb. Then, college scouts spotted Francis at a Caribbean meet. He ended up at Central Arizona, then Boise. Became an All-American. Became a family man. Found a cheering section that beats them all.
Cheering because of their admiration for who he is, not what he can do.
He had the javelin sewn up by almost 6 meters, yesterday, 72.79 to his teammate Nate Putnam's 66.95, so he ran back to come from behind in the long jump, and when the number was announced his clan went nuts.
He shook hands with every official, called his jubilant coach "the man of the hour," was most excited to find out that back at the javelin, Boise State had finished 1-2-3-4.
He's been quite the tour guide on this trip. It turns out that Grenada and Hawaii have many of the same trees and plants.
"Maybe if Grandma and Grandpa take the kids tonight we can have kind of a honeymoon," Mindy said.
Maybe. He still has the triple jump today.
His wife shook the sand out of his long-jump shoes. A teammate played with one of the boys. They had to call Keron over to the medal stand to get his award.
Another day in the life of the family man, honeymoon man, All-American, WAC champ.