Sat, May 24: Rossow: Lean Green on 24-hour call

Sat, May 24: Rossow: Lean Green on 24-hour call

   Dorian Green won''t be working the concession stand at today''s Big Ten track and field meet on campus.

   Nor will he be taking tickets or passing out programs.

   And the guy singing the national anthem? Not him either.

   Not that he''d be opposed to serving soda, manning turnstiles or hitting high notes. It''s just that no one asked.

   "I''ll do anything if I knew it''d help the team," Green said. "That''s how I was raised."

   This is how he turned out: Green is All-Big Ten in both track and cooperation.

   Today the 22-year-old flash of lightning will forsake his best chance of qualifying for next month''s NCAA Championships  the 400 meters  to help the University of Illinois accumulate points. He will run the 100 and the 200. He will run legs on two relays.

   If Illinois coach Gary Wieneke says, he''d give the javelin a heave, the shot a put, the triple jump a try.

   Even if it means missing the NCAAs, ideally his last stop in a storied college career. Last week, Green provisionally qualified in the 400 but could use another weekend to perhaps automatically qualify. Instead, he''s got shorter sprints to worry about.

   "Some of my friends, they''re like, ''You''ve got to look out for yourself,'' " Green said. "They say, ''You''ve got to qualify for nationals.'' I tell them that''s not why I''m here. I''m here to run for the school."

Path to success

   His loyalty never has been questioned, even though Illinois wasn''t his top choice coming out of Marshall High in Cleveland. Green desperately wanted to attend Ohio State, making plans with a high school teammate to sign letters of intent on the same day.

   His never arrived. The Buckeyes, Green said, backed off on him but forged a deal with his friend.

   "Every time I run against them, I try to smash it in their face," Green said. "I try to make them regret it."

   At last season''s Big Ten indoor meet at Ohio State, Green won the 200 and 400. In the 1,600 relay, he roared back on the last leg for an unlikely Illinois win.

   "I had their coach crying," he said. "They were so far ahead, but we ended up coming back from a distance you shouldn''t be able to come back from."

   He was named MVP of the meet.

   Now he''s up for MVP of the school.

   Green, one of the more decorated point producers in Big Ten track and field competition, is 1 of 7 Illini men nominated for the Dike Eddleman Athlete of the Year Award. The winner will be announced next month.

   He figures he needs a blue ribbon or two this weekend to boost his stock, considering his chosen sport.

   "We''re always losing to a basketball or football player," he said. "Guess I''ve got to do something outrageous."

Physically fit

   Green, at 5-foot-9 and 148 pounds, is small for a sprinter. Wind, when blowing against him, often throws him off course.

   Beefier competition does not.

   Green will not be intimidated, no matter how obnoxious the tactics.

   "They stare you down, they make noises, they talk bad to you  anything to get to you," Green said. "I look back at them like, ''Are you crazy?'' I''ve been in this game long enough to know how to handle it."

   His father gets the credit. Gerald Green was a fair sprinter of his own in high school and introduced Dorian to cinder at an early age. Dorian began running in clubs at age 10  "That''s where I get the teamwork thing because all I can remember is being part of a team," he said  and dominating soon thereafter.

   "My dad, we''ve always been close," Dorian said. "I think he runs through me, and I run through him."

   But who''s faster?

   "I keep challenging him," Dorian said, "but he keeps coming up with excuses."

   Gerald and Alicia Green will be in the stands this weekend to watch their son close out his UI career. His athletic career.

   Green will return to school for another year to finish his degree in advertising. Not surprisingly, he''s a big help when he''s not in cleats. He''s a member of a student-athlete advisory board and is heavy into the Hometown Heroes program.

   "Don''t want to be known as just a jock," he said.

   A role model with many roles. All you have to do is ask.

   Jim Rossow is sports editor of The News-Gazette.