The battle lines are drawn for the Pacific 10 track and field meet Friday and Saturday at the Coliseum.
It appears as if the meet will be a fight between UCLA and defending champion Washington State. Both coaches said as much at a Wednesday track luncheon.
WSU Coach John Chaplin said the Bruins are the logical favorites because they have more depth. UCLA Coach Bob Larsen concedes that his team has a good chance to win but points out that his athletes will be confronting mature foreign athletes from Washington State, some of whom are Olympic Games medalists.
Neither coach believes that Oregon, a traditional power, has a chance to break the UCLA-WSU monopoly if the favored teams perform to expectations.
"We have a classic confrontation, a meet within a meet," Larsen said. "Southern California teen-agers will be trying to score well against a team (Washington State) that has won this meet the last three years by extremely large margins.
"But we have a great chance of winning it this year. I know John Chaplin has picked us to be the champions. That helps our young people. I've told them they have a chance to win the meet, but it's good to hear it from an outside source."
So, instead of trying to avoid the pressure of being favored, Larsen wants it to work to his team's advantage.
Chaplin, who can stir a controversy quicker than he talks, was rather subdued. He said there would be no confrontations and he couldn't be baited into an argument about his use of foreign athletes.
UCLA's chances of winning were enhanced when USC Coach Ernie Bullard said that his star sprinter, Luis (Pancho) Morales, probably will run only in the sprint relay.
Morales figured to win the 100 and 200. But he is bothered by severe shin splints, and Bullard doesn't want to risk further injury.
With Morales out, UCLA's sprinters--Henry Thomas, Danny Everett and Mike Marsh--are assured of scoring more points.
"I feel the Bruins are favored because they have more depth," Chaplin said. "We may be better up front (with more quality athletes), but we don't have as many as they have. We were expecting more help from Southern Cal, but now that Morales is out, that gives us a problem. Bob is doing what I would have done, loading up in the 100 and 200. "We're hoping that the California kid (Atlee Mahorn) might be able to help us (in the sprints). We're hurting in the sprints and relays because we've lost Kris Durr (runner-up in the 400 last year). We'll just have to take our lumps and do what we can."
Don't shed any tears for Chaplin's Cougars. If they don't win the Pac-10 meet, they've got a good chance of winning the NCAA meet in which quality performers make more of an impact than overall team depth.
Larsen said first-day performances are critical for his team.
"Traditionally, Washington State has scored so many points on Friday that the meet was practically over," he said. "We have to score enough points Friday to feel we have a chance to come back on Saturday and win the meet."
Chaplin wasn't buying the Friday angle.
"I remember a year when we had 85 points on the first day and USC had only 3, and they won the meet," Chaplin said. "So don't believe all the fairy tales you've heard about the first day."
The meet begins at noon Friday with hammer throw competition at Cal State Long Beach. Coliseum events start at 4 p.m. with trials and some finals. It's all finals on Saturday, starting at 1 p.m. . . . Injury dept.: UCLA Coach Bob Larsen said that quarter-miler Anthony Washington and triple jumper Dwayne Washington, who figured to score, will be unable to compete. Bruin hurdler Raymond Young, who has been injured, will try to compete in the 400 intermediate hurdles. . . . USC triple jumper Greg Harper will be inactive following knee surgery. . . . UCLA's Mike Powell could compete in as many as four events--sprint relay, long jump, triple jump and high jump. . . . Washington's Mike Ramos won the Pac-10 decathlon Tuesday by scoring a collegiate record 8,322 points. It's been a down event for Americans since Bruce Jenner's victory in the 1976 Olympics. "Mike will be America's next great superstar in the event," Washington Coach Ken Shannon predicted. . . . UCLA hasn't won the conference championship since 1982, the year before Washington State made its three-year run. USC has won 29 conference championships; UCLA is runner-up with eight.