March 23, 2005 - Emblazoned on the back of the Canyon Del Oro High School track and field warmup T-shirts this year is the simple phrase "Catch us if you can."

Never before has a garment been so apt, especially when it's on the back of Jordan Powell.

Records are falling this year at CDO, mostly on the leaps and bounds of the senior, Powell. Through the air or on the ground, the multitalented, multi-sport standout is among the top athletes in not just the Northwest, but throughout all of Arizona.

Already the owner of two school records in the long and triple jumps, Powell grabbed a third mark March 2 at CDO when he cleared 6-feet, 7 1/2 inches in the high jump. The record was the longest standing mark in CDO track and field history, set in 1971 by Larry Epling and tied with three years later by Marshall Edwards.

"He was created to be a jumper," said CDO's head football coach, Pat Nugent. "He's got every bit of talent."

More of a well-chiseled machine than a high school student, Powell has blistering speed that has earned him a spot on the CDO 400-meter relay squad - a foursome composed mostly of Powell's teammates from the Dorados' football team. Powell starred on Nugent's 9-2 state playoff squad this year as a wide receiver.

That quartet might have a different look today, had Powell originally followed his heart as a freshman.

"I didn't like running," recalls Powell of his start in track and field as a freshman, "but I was like, 'OK, I'll try it.'"

Results were almost immediate. As a freshman Powell knew he was good when he out-jumped CDO's then No. 1 long jumper, at 18 feet, during the first weeks of practice.

The only ones that aren't glad the senior experienced an epiphany are the former record holders. Given Powell's school records, state marks are now in jeopardy. The Arizona high school record for the high jump is 7-2, set in 1989 by Gabriel Beecham of Casa Grande High School.

Powell's school record in the long jump, 22-5, is short of the Arizona mark of 25-9, set by Lamonte King of Dysart High School in 1977. The same goes for the triple jump where, at CDO, Powell jumped 44-5. The state mark of 49-1, set in 1994, is held by Aaron Fox of Flagstaff's Sinagua High School.

But records aren't what motivate Powell.

"I want to win state," Powell said, after a voluntary workout at CDO during spring break. "If I could do that in all three, I would love that."

With or without a state record, Powell will take his talent to the collegiate level in the fall. The senior is weighing his options of University of Arizona and Central Arizona College.

UA would be Powell's first choice, but not just so he could stay close to home and compete against the some of the toughest competition the NCAA has to offer in the Pac-10.

Powell has developed a strong bond with head UA track and field coach Fred Harvey. Harvey has coached the senior for the past four years on the Tucson Elite Athletic Club, a summer team that competes in city meets and prepares for the Junior Olympics.

In his first year with Elite, Powell was the only member of the team - which typically averages about 50 kids ranging in age from five and six to young adults in their mid-20s - to earn a shot to compete at the Junior Olympics in Omaha, Neb.

Because UA is trying to recruit Powell, Harvey could not go into much detail about the CDO standout, but he did refer to Powell as a "great young man."

"He's been with us for three years, and during that time we've really seen him develop and grasp the concepts we try to teach," Harvey said.

Working with Harvey during the off-season has helped Powell make tremendous strides on the track.

"My personal bests were pretty much climbing every time-out," Powell said.

At UA, he would join former CDO track and field standouts Eric Acuna, class of 2004, and Karen Langdorf, class of 2003.

No matter what motivational wisdom the UA track and field T-shirts might display, if Powell is wearing one, there's a good chance his new teammates and competition will be reading it from behind.

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