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HEADLINE: Student death linked to enlarged heart

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  • HEADLINE: Student death linked to enlarged heart

    Copyright 2005 Associated Press
    All Rights Reserved

    The Associated Press State & Local Wire

    These materials may not be republished without the express
    written consent of The Associated Press

    February 3, 2005, Thursday, BC cycle

    10:49 AM Eastern Time

    SECTION: State and Regional

    LENGTH: 339 words

    HEADLINE: Student death linked to enlarged heart

    DATELINE: EAGLETOWN, Okla.

    BODY:

    A 15-year-old Oklahoma high school student who collapsed and died during a
    basketball game had an enlarged heart, medical officials said.

    R.J. Pennon died Tuesday night of a condition called hypertrophic
    cardiomyopathy, said Kevin Rowland, chief investigator for the state medical
    examiner.

    Pennon collapsed while resting on the bench during a game against Fort Towson
    High School.

    An enlarged heart is a condition that probably would not be detected during
    regular medical checkups or a sports physical, Rowland said. Physical exertion,
    he said, can cause the heart to go into an "irregular rhythm, and sometimes it
    doesn't recover. And that's what appears happened here."

    The class bells were shut off Wednesday at Eagletown High School in far
    southeast Oklahoma. Students talked with counselors, clergy and one another most
    of the day.

    As in most small towns, the 70 students at Eagletown High are close, said
    Jammie Bean, one of Pennon's teachers. Classes resumed Thursday, but school
    officials said absences would be excused.

    "We do have to move on with our education," she said. "We know that. But we
    have to know whether they're ready to move on."

    Family and friends met Wednesday night at the Eagletown Assembly of God
    church for a memorial service, said Mike Hopper, superintendent and high school
    principal. Funeral services will be at the school, Hopper said, but a date has
    not been set.

    Pennon was described as an outgoing student who was known for teasing his
    classmates. He was a member of Family, Career and Community Leaders of America
    and was a good student. However, his passion was basketball.

    Pennon played center and stood out on the court. The sophomore scored 32
    points during a game last week.

    Coach Justin Pierce said he's thankful Pennon's teammates have pulled
    together to help each other through the crisis, and the coach said he knows the
    teens will carry on with their season in honor of their friend.

    "I feel like we kind of have to get back together and finish the race."

    LOAD-DATE: February 3, 2005

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