BARSTOW Training is one thing, competing another. Barstow kickboxer Vernon Sciortino is about to get his first taste of the latter.

Sciortino, a sophomore at Barstow High School, is an Aztec athlete, a member of the track and cross country teams. Outside of school, he took up Muay Thai kickboxing three years ago. He liked it immediately, has since has been training under Barstow's Julian Lugo, and this Saturday, he'll be competing in his first bout.

"His grandmother asked me to show him," said Lugo, who has known Sciortino since he was a baby. "I like kids to have fun. Education is the most important, but keeping busy and having fun is important, too."

The bout will take place at Doblers Muay Thai Kickboxing in Fontana, starting at 3 p.m. Saturday. There will be about 20 fights, mostly amateur, from ages 8-and-up. Sciortino will be representing both La Colonia, Lugo's gym, and Henry Gutierrez Martial Arts in Barstow.
While he enjoys running and track, kickboxing is a whole different activity, and one Sciortino took to right away.

"As soon as I started, I got a lot into it," he said. "The thing about kickboxing is you meet a lot of people, and get real pumped up. It takes a lot of work, a lot of hours in the gym, but it's a lot of fun."

The amateur fights on Saturday will be grouped according to age, not ability.

"Whoever I fight could be really skilled," said Sciortino. "He'll be my age, but I don't know his skill level."

Sciortino has never been seriously hurt, and is hoping that doesn't change.

"It's a brutal sport, I've seen people get pretty bloody," he said. "I've had minor injuries, mostly sore legs from getting kicked in the shins."

The experience will be a first, and Sciortino is definitely ready.

"I've been looking forward to it," he said. "All my friends will be coming to support me. I'm pumped for it."