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Sunday, January 27, 1991 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Council Dashes Into Big Time

Scripps Howard News Service

Daron Council is a man on the move. Just ask Ben Johnson.

Council spoiled Johnson's celebrated return to competitive track two weeks ago with a victory in the 50-meter dash in Hamilton, Ontario.

Council, 26, a 1987 Auburn graduate, believes he and other top sprinters will make Johnson's comeback extremely difficult.

``He just isn't the same guy,'' Council said. ``I was very happy to win the race; but let's face it, there are a lot of great sprinters out there. And will Ben ever get back to where he was now that he's clean? I would really be surprised if he did. It would be a heck of a surprise to me if he won a medal in Barcelona (site of the 1992 Olympics).''

The slender Council, 6-1 and 170, is an interesting story. When he isn't running, he works as a deputy sheriff in Gainesville, Fla. After 18 months of undercover narcotics work, he is now a counseler-teacher in crime prevention, telling mainly elementary children about the dangers of drugs and tragedy of crime.

He enjoyed a fine career at Auburn. He set a Southeastern Conference indoor record in the 300 in 1985. He tied an American record for the 300 in 1986.

Council just missed qualifying for the 1988 Olympic team in the 100 and 200. With his degree in criminology, he took that as a signal to go to work.

``I was really down about missing the team,'' Council said. ``I was really thinking about quitting running and just getting a job in law enforcement.''

Fortunately, his wife Rosalyn, a hurdler at Auburn, talked him out of quitting. The couple moved to Florida in 1988, mostly to help each other train for running. But first, Council faced a six-month police training course with much of his eight-hour shifts done at night.

``It just ruined my training for at least five months,'' Council said.

The erratic hours of narcotics work did not help much, either. Many drug buys happen late at night.

Gradually, Council regained the promising form he showed in college.

``When I got back to working in the morning and doing my three hours of training in the afternoon, I could feel myself getting stronger and running better. People ask me how I could do both (running and police work) but I've gotten used to it.''

His results have improved. He finished 1990 ranked eighth in Mobil Grand Prix standings in the 100 and ninth in the 200. But Council's real breakthrough came against Johnson.

Council was a late entry, a substitute for Dennis Mitchell, who withdrew. Council had run the 50 only once, in college. The sellout crowd of 17,000 in Hamilton was wildly cheering Johnson.

Council ran 5.75 seconds, nipping the slow-starting Johnson by two-hundredths of a second.

``Everyone in track and field has something that makes them known to a lot more people,'' Council said. ``Track and field people knew who I was, but the general public had no idea who Daron Council was. So now that race puts my name out there.

``Now, I have to keep running well and winning and beating those big people. Then I can be considered with those great runners.''

Mel Rosen, Council's coach at Auburn, is not surprised.

``He always had the talent, he just lacked some of the confidence needed to make it at that level,'' said Rosen.

``I'm a more confident runner now,'' Council said. ``When I was in college, I was always competitive, but I never really expected to win.''

Some think Council has arrived. School children are among his biggest supporters.

``A bunch of them came to the airport (in Gainesville) two weeks ago to see me off,'' Council said with a proud smile. ``They made a good-luck banner and played kazoos as I boarded the plane. It was really special.''

That regard for children may be Council's biggest problem with Johnson.

``I see kids every day and they say to me `Can you beat Ben, because he makes $100,000?' But then I'll say `But Ben cheated to win to make a lot of that money.'

``But they don't really understand that. All they understand is the bottom line of that money in their hand. And what Ben did and him coming back the way he has, I really feel that sends the wrong message to kids.''

Copyright (c) 1991 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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