It was around 6:40 Friday evening that Doug Fraley of Fresno State decided to take off his sweats and join the rest of the pole vault field in the Pacific Coast Athletic Assn. Track and Field Championships at UC Irvine. Actually, he didn't have much choice. The rest of the field was finished.
Such is life on the lonely runway for one of the highest flying pole vaulters in the country this year. On the list of top marks in the United States in 1987, Fraley's name is listed only behind world-class vaulters Joe Dial, Earl Bell and Bill Olson. His mark of 18-feet 8 3/4-inches, best in the NCAA this year, places him well above the competition in the PCAA. On Friday, the difference was obvious.
Fraley didn't even attempt a vault until the pole was set at 17-0 3/4, and he was the only competitor to attempt that height. He made it on his second attempt and went on to win the event with a vault of 18-0 1/2. It was the senior's third straight PCAA title. UC Irvine's Erik Kenyon was second at 15-9, illustrating the huge gap between Fraley and the rest of the PCAA pack.
"One of the main reasons I enjoy this meet is that it's one meet of the year when you don't have to worry about (setting a personal record)," Fraley said. "You just score your projected points and get a chance to get a good workout in. I look at this as just a good, structured workout.
"It is kind of tough to get revved up, though."
Fraley is likely to be a bit more excited when he competes in the Pepsi Invitational May 16 at UCLA. There, he hopes to make a run at the 19-foot mark that has eluded him so far. He has a personal best of 18-11 and has failed on three attempts at 19-0.
"I think it's going to come," Fraley said. "I just need to jump in some meets with guys like (former U.S. record-holder Mike) Tully who are going to pull me that high. I really need to jump on their coattails. That's when it's going to come. Right now, my main concern is to win the NCAA outdoor championship."
Fraley's little workout Friday helped the Bulldogs take an overwhelming lead in the team standings into today's final events. Fresno State, which has won four straight men's team titles, finished the day with 87 points, well ahead of second-place Irvine (38). The women's team standings are a bit closer--Fresno State leads with 47, followed by San Diego State (28), Cal State Long Beach (22), Irvine (14) and Nevada Las Vegas (13).
Gus Quinonez of Irvine finished Friday's competition in near darkness, winning the men's 10,000 meters with a meet record and personal best of 29 minutes 51.60 seconds. Quinonez, the defending PCAA champion in the 10,000, wasn't challenged by the rest of the field as much as he was by the darkness that was beginning to engulf Anteater Stadium.
"You have to start concentrating on other things besides pace, like trying to figure out where you are on the track," he said. "It was pretty dark, especially down the back stretch."
Among the other notable happenings of the first day:
--Ralph Garibaldi of Irvine, who won the 1,500 last year with a time of 3:50.46, finished sixth in his trial heat at 4:02.23, failing to qualify for today's finals.
--Lacy Barnes of Fresno State, holder of the best women's discus mark in the NCAA this season (190-7), won the event with a meet-record throw of 177-10.
--Fresno State triple jumper Tamara Compton set a meet record with a mark of 40-7 1/2, edging Karin Grelsson of Irvine, who had set the record last year. For Grelsson, there was consolation in the fact that she finished the day leading the heptathlon with 3,097 points after four of the seven events.
--Nichole Ritchot of Irvine had the best qualifying in the 1,500 with 4:42.55, more than two seconds better than defending champion Trena Hull of UNLV. Earlier this week, Hull was reprimanded by PCAA Commissioner Lewis A. Cryer for her part in an altercation with Irvine's Jennifer Abraham during a 3,000-meter run in a three-way meet at San Diego State April 18. Hull was the PCAA's 1986 women's track athlete of the year.