Cal State Northridge, which has won five straight NCAA Division II swimming championships and nine of the past 11, usually takes a full team to the national championships.
Each team is allowed no more than 18 competitors at the nationals. Swimmers count as a full entry; divers count as half an entry. Last year, CSUN had 16 swimmers and four divers qualify for the meet. They compiled a record 488 points.
This season, CSUN Coach Pete Accardy expected to bring another full team to the nationals March 12-15 in Orlando, Fla., but six swimmers have left the team since school started last September. CSUN will take 11 swimmers and four divers to Orlando.
Gone are Mike Beubis, second in the 400 individual medley at last year's nationals; Craig Rond, state champion in the 200 butterfly last season at Ventura College; Eric Dickson, a junior college All-American in the breaststroke last season; Mike Rossie, a finalist at the nationals last season in the 500 freestyle, and Greg Shorey, a transfer from Brigham Young, who would have been a finalist in three events at the nationals, according to Accardy.
Another swimmer, Jesse Kelly, came down with mononucleosis 10 days ago.
"Losing so many swimmers like this has never happened to us before," Accardy said. "It's disappointing because we had the best team in the nation. With them, I don't think we would've had any problems."
Without them, CSUN will struggle.
"I still think we have a chance," Accardy said. "But it'll definitely be tough."
Beubis said the swimmers who dropped out of the program had nothing against Accardy.
"We just had our own reasons for not wanting to swim. I was sick of it. I'd been swimming for a long time. It was good, swimming at Northridge, but I had other interests. I knew I wouldn't be giving 100%. There was nowhere to go with it."
The Master's baseball team is singing the blues these days.
Coach John Zeller has lost five of his starters because of injuries. Third baseman Tim Kane underwent surgery before the season to repair nerve damage in his arm. He's out for the year.
Outfielder Tim Bahr also suffered nerve damage in his arm. Zeller said Bahr has given up baseball. Infielder Rod Shackleford tore ligaments in his ankle and is out for the year.
First baseman Tony DeMare has been out for five weeks with a pulled hamstring. He could return in two weeks.
On Saturday, shortstop Matt MacArthur collided with teammate Adam Dennis while chasing a ground ball. MacArthur will be out for one week, Zeller said.
"This has been tough on the whole team," he said. "The guys we lost were our leaders. We were counting on them. It's goint to be a long season. The kids are down."
The Master's is 3-8.
Add Master's baseball: On the bright side, Zeller said former Atlanta Braves catcher Biff Pocoroba will join The Master's coaching staff next season. With the addition of Pocoroba, The Master's will have two former major leaguers on its staff. The other is Geoff Zahn, who announced his retirement from the majors this month.
Before last Friday's game with Cal State Bakersfield, CSUN basketball Coach Pete Cassidy told Phil Klusman of the Bakersfield Californian: "We didn't initiate any of the problems here (at Northridge) and we're not going to initiate any of the problems there. All of that cheap stuff that goes on shouldn't be part of the game. All we care about is playing basketball. I didn't get into this business to be in charge of 'Friday Night at the Fights.' "
In the first CSUN-Bakersfield game in Northridge, which Bakersfield won, there were two bench-clearing brawls.
After the rematch last week, which CSUN won, Cassidy said the fights were a "dead issue," and that the Matadors' victory was of no particular significance, other than the fact that they had played well.
However, a CSUN statistician asked CS Bakersfield sports information director Joni Jones for 20 copies of the final stats.
"The guys are going to frame this one," she said.
Add CSUN swimming: At the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. championships last week at Cal State Bakersfield, the CSUN men's team was blown out of the water by Bakersfield, which won 15 of 16 events.
Bakersfield swimmers shave their body hair and taper their workouts for the conference meet. CSUN does not shave until the nationals and continues to work out during the conference meet.
Which raises an obvious question then: Why does CSUN even bother to show up?
"We have to," Accardy said. "If I had a choice, we wouldn't have. We would have trained right through to the nationals. I would love not to have to come to this meet.
"All we do is get embarrassed. Physically, our bodies are here, but nothing else is here."
Lionel Boyce, who averaged 11 points and six rebounds a game for the Cal Lutheran basketball team this season, will participate in spring football drills and probably play for the Kingsmen next fall.