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Mom knows best: Mothers' guidance created paths to state for Moravec, Gipson

Mom knows best: Mothers' guidance created paths to state for Moravec, Gipson

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Carol Moravec and Julie Gipson were both high school and college track standouts who are now sharing their knowledge and passion for the sport helping coach their sons.

The former Carol Bailey, a native of Jamaica, was a seven-time NAIA outdoor national champion sprinter at Concordia, winning the 100-meter dash four straight years from 1987 to 1990 and the 200 three times ('87, '89, '90).

Moravec has coached track at Lincoln Southeast since 1994. The former Journal Star girls prep coach of the year was head girls coach when the Knights won four straight Class A girls titles from 2000 to 2003, but she now specializes as a sprint and conditioning coach for both the boys and girls programs.

The former Julie Faris was a state champion at Tecumseh and still owns school records (now Johnson County Central) for the 100 (11.81 seconds, 1977), 200 (:24.9, 1976) and long jump (18-8½, 1977). She went on to compete at Kearney State (now Nebraska-Kearney), where she was an indoor NAIA All-American in 1981. She's fifth on UNK's all-time long jump list and tied for 10th on the 400 list.

She now coaches the jumpers at Lincoln Christian.

Carol and Vincent Moravec

It was at a ninth-grade track meet three years ago when Carol discovered her son was determined to follow in her footsteps. Growing up, Vincent played all the sports, eventually limiting it to football as a freshman, tennis as a sophomore and junior, and, of course, track.

"He told me at that meet that he liked track the best,'' she said, smiling. "Those were the best words I ever heard.''

Vincent grew up at the Southeast track. He was there a lot in the summer when Carol would work with Southeast athletes in all sports in the Knights' conditioning program.

"There were some hot days when I wished I wasn't there, but most of the time I liked coming to the track because there were other kids there to play with,'' Vincent said.

As he's gotten older, he's learned to appreciate his mother's track expertise and her ability to get everything possible out of each athlete.

"I look at her as both a mom and coach,'' said Vincent, an Academic All-Stater who's in his mom's physiology class this semester. "She knows how hard to push me, when I should keep going and when I need to back off.''

Vincent has been a sprinter, hurdler and long jumper most of his track career, but it took until a few weeks remaining in his senior season that he finally found his niche — the triple jump. He'd always resisted the event because of the toll it would have on his legs for the hurdles and sprints.

"My (jumps) coach (Ben Tegeler) forced me to do it,'' Vincent said. "The day before the LPS meet was the first time I'd tried it in practice.''

On his second attempt of the competition, Vincent popped a leap of 44 feet, 10¾ inches, the second-best in the state this spring.

"I got out of the pit and everyone gasped when they heard the distance,'' said Vincent, who's won triple jump gold medals at the LPS, Heartland Conference and district meets. "I had no idea if that was good or not because I'd never done it before.''

In the triple jump, Vincent doesn't experience the nervousness that haunts him before the sprints and hurdle races. "I get so nervous I get sick to my stomach,'' Vincent said. "For some reason, that doesn't happen to me in the triple jump.''

Vincent plans to attend Nebraska, major in mechanical engineering and walk on the track team to triple jump.

"I'm glad he discovered it (the triple jump) before it was too late,'' Carol said. "He's so new to it, the sky's the limit to what he can do.''

Julie and Levi Gipson

The Gipsons live just east of Seacrest Park and Lincoln East High School, and Julie would bring Levi and his older brother, Jacob, (who now plays basketball and tennis at Hastings College) over to throw the football around and play tennis and basketball on the courts when they were youngsters.

Before they headed home, however, Julie always brought the boys over to Stuart Stadium where the East track is. "I'd always make them (long) jump after we were done doing everything else,'' Julie said, laughing.

It turned out to be time well-spent. It provided the seeds for a track career that continues to blossom for Levi, a junior at Lincoln Christian. He enters the Class C boys state meet as the class leader in the long jump (22-9), as well as the 100 (:10.5), 200 (:22.1) and 400 (:48.8).

For Levi, however, track is just one of three sports he excels in. The 6-foot-4 Gipson was a Class C-2 basketball all-stater this past season, pacing the Crusaders to a state championship. After two years of playing tennis for Christian, Levi played football for the first time since middle school last fall and became a prime target as a wide receiver.

"I like basketball the best, but track is where my best opportunity is for college,'' Levi said. "I'd like to see what I can do if I can specialize on just one or two (track) events.''

Julie not only introduced Levi to the long jump, she also had some interesting techniques to work on his vertical jump.

"When he was younger, I'd make him jump up and touch the top of the door frame in the house,'' said Julie, who's an instructor at Madonna ProActive.

While longtime Christian assistant Rico Kotrous coaches Levi in the sprints, Julie works with her son in the long jump.

"When I tried to tell Levi something about sprints, that didn't go well,'' she said.

She has no problem getting his attention in the long jump.

"She's taught me the fundamentals; now it's just a matter of fine tuning things,'' Levi said. "Sometimes it comes down to running fast (down the runway) and jumping far.''

At state last year, Levi finished fourth in the long jump and 200, and third in the 400. Expectations, and the pressure that comes with them, are higher this season.

"I don't feel pressure. I don't even think about it,'' Levi said. "To me, I've just got an audience of one — Christ.''

Reach Ron Powell at 402-473-7437 or



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