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MICHAEL GOULDING, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
Newport Harbor's Allison Stokke at the CIF Masters track meet at Cerritos College.

Allison Stokke: Unwanted attention

Allison Stokke: Unwanted attention

The Orange County Register
:
Newport Harbor's popular polevaulter is focused on a state title, but Internet users have a different focus.
Newport Harbor High's Allison Stokke is one of 25 girls in California who has qualified for the CIF State Track and Field Championships in the pole vault.

As one of the favorites going into Friday night's prelims, Stokke will be a closely watched competitor at Hughes Stadium at Sacramento City College.

But in recent weeks, Stokke has attracted a different kind of attention, an unwanted and sometimes lewd type of attention from cyberspace.

Stokke has become an Internet sensation based not on her impressive clearances in the pole vault but because of her looks.

Several sports blogs have posted photographs of her at competitions. A Google search of her name generates 197,000 results. An Allison Stokke Fans MySpace page lists more than 1,000 friends.

Some of the attention has even spread to the online version of Maxim magazine. Maximonline.com had hopes of producing an exclusive photo gallery of Stokke.

"We wanted to do a sports feature on her," said Kelly Stuart, photo editor of Maximonline.com.

But when Stuart learned Wednesday that Stokke was a high school senior, the plans ended. Models need to be 21, Stuart said.

On the sports blog sites, the coverage of Stokke doesn't stop with the images. There's commentary and lewd comments from readers.

One blog earlier this month had a photo of Stokke and an accompanying article that included a sentence, "Hubba hubba and other grunting sounds."

While the readers of the blogs have lapped up the coverage, Stokke and her family feel uneasy.

"We are concerned about all of this," said Allan Stokke, Allison's father and a prominent Orange County defense attorney. "Some of the comments are pretty crude, and some people make comments that no dad wants to hear about their daughter."

At least one Web site has responded to Stokke's concerns. The site "allisonstokke.com" called itself an unofficial fan page and featured 12 photos. But earlier this week, the site changed its slogan to the "former" unofficial fan page, removed the photos and wrote a farewell message.

"Sorry for having contributed to the unwanted attention, Allison," the message read.

The demand for the pole vaulter doesn't seem to be waning. CNN, ESPN and the morning television shows are all calling.

David Cohen, an associate producer for "The Morning Show with Mike and Juliet," said his show was interested in talking to Stokke about the problems of being young and featured on the Internet.

Stokke, however, has made it known she isn't doing interviews before the state meet.

Eric Tweit, Newport Harbor's girls track coach, said his athlete is focused on winning a state title. "Her focus is no different (this week)," he said. "It doesn't matter what's going on in the outside."

Stokke has built an impressive track resume. She won the CIF state championship as a freshman and is headed to Cal next season. A background in gymnastics has provided her speed for the run-up and excellent body awareness for getting over the pole.

Near the end of her sophomore season, she broke her tibia during an errant landing in practice. She used her junior season to help regain her confidence, said Kevin Magula, her club coach with Marina High-based Higher Flyers Pole Vault Club.

Earlier this season, Stokke cleared an Orange County record 13 feet, 7 inches.

Stokke isn't alone at Newport Harbor with her concern over the use of photos on the Internet. Newport Harbor's aquatics boosters are looking into ways to protect their athletes.

"All it takes is one photo on Facebook or MySpace and low and behold, it's out there," said Mary Pat Robinson, a parent of a water polo player. "That's what is scary."

Contact the writer: dalbano@ocregister.com


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