As records were falling left and right at Saturday’s championships, Balkin’s mark was almost among the casualties as Junipero Serra of Gardena sophomore Harrison Steed took three attempts at 7-3 1/2 , but failed on all three.
Steed won this year’s high jump event with a leap of 7-1 and Balkin, who jumped 6-9 as a sophomore, was quick to predict Steed would take down his mark before his time was done.
“That’s just a shock,” Balkin said of his meet record still standing. “I’m very, very surprised. I’d love to see somebody break it. Records are meant to be broken. Power to anybody that can break it.”
Balkin gave credit to his coach John Barnes and another legendary Nitros jumper, Dwight Stones, a three-time Olympian, for helping him establish himself among the state’s best.
Barnes helped coach Stones to the 1971 CIF Championship in the high jump, paving the way for Balkin to come along less than a decade later.
“If it wouldn’t have been for what Dwight and John did eight years previously and gave me that road, I probably wouldn’t have been able to do it,” said Balkin, who still resides in Glendale. “[To PR] at the state meet was just the beginning of a real great career of many, many years.”
After Glendale High, Balkin became a Pac-10 Conference champion and two-time All-American at UCLA.
He also finished second twice at the U.S. National Championships and narrowly missed out on qualifying for the Olympics on several occasions.
Currently, Balkin can be found working as the jumps coach at Glendale Community College, where he just completed his second season.
For Balkin, who was the head coach for the Vaqueros from 1985 to 1992, it was an easy decision to return to the sport after a 15-year hiatus.
“It was a combination of missing it and really just enjoying it,” Balkin said of his decision to return to GCC. “I wanted to give back to track and field. Track and field was fabulous to me.”
And as the state meet record book still shows, Balkin was fabulous to track and field, too.
DYLAN KRUSE covers sports. He can be reached at (818) 637-3252 or firstname.lastname@example.org.