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Pacific 10 Track and Field Championships : It's a UCLA Show at Corvallis, and Devers Takes Most of Bows

May 24, 1987|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

CORVALLIS, Ore. — UCLA's Gail Devers was thrown into the steeplechase water jump pit by her teammates early Saturday evening.

It was the first time that anyone had caught up with the versatile athlete in the two-day Pacific 10 track and field meet.

Devers won four individual events and ran a leg on winning 400 and 1,600-meter relay teams as the Bruins won the team championship with 121 points to runner-up USC's 107.

It was a UCLA show on a warm day in the Northwest. The men's team avenged a loss to Oregon in last year's meet by compiling 176 points to 108 for the second-place Ducks. USC, which faltered on Friday, surged to fourth with 65 points.

"Thank God for Gail Devers," said Bob Kersee, UCLA women's coach. "The Lord blessed me with one fantastic athlete in Jackie Joyner (his wife and the world heptathlon record-holder).

"People say that you get an athlete like that once in a lifetime. Then, before Jackie graduates (from UCLA), I get Gail Devers."

Devers, who won the long jump Friday, came back Saturday to record a personal best time of 22.71 seconds in the 200. Earlier, she had won the 100 in 11.17 and, in her only close race of the meet, held off Arizona State's Lynda Tolbert in the 100-meter hurdles. Devers' winning time was 13.28, just ahead of Tolbert at 13.29.

Devers has competed in as many eight events in dual meets. But Kersee said the work load will be eased in 1988, an Olympic year.

"Next year she can do what she wants, pick the events she wants to compete in," Kersee said.

Devers didn't have to run the anchor leg of the 1,600-meter relay, the final event, Saturday. The Bruins had already clinched the meet with 111 points to USC's 99. But that's not her style.

"I wasn't tired and I felt the Pac-10 meet wasn't over until the 1,600 relay was over whether we had won, or lost," she said while applying ice packs to her legs.

While Devers was showcased in the women's meet, the men's team buried Oregon with more balanced scoring. Among the contributors were:

--Jim Banich, who won the discus at 194-3, to become the only double winner in men's competition. He won the shotput Friday and was named the male athlete of the meet. You don't need to ask who got the women's award.

--Henry Thomas was beaten by USC's Pancho Morales in the 100 but returned to win the 200 in the personal best time of 20.24.

--Kevin Young hit the ninth hurdle and struggled a bit, but still won the 400-meter intermediate hurdles in 50.06. Earlier, Danny Everett won the 400 in 45.52 with teammate Anthony Washington getting third in 46.16.

"Throughout both days we had remarkable good fortune," UCLA Coach Bob Larsen said. "We got excited about our possibilities after the first day, but we felt the same way last year and then Oregon had a great second day to beat us."

UCLA's 176 points was the second highest point total in conference history. USC scored 180 points in winning the 1976 meet.

A track meet wouldn't be complete without some controversy and protests. The Pac-10 meet held its own.

Fred LaPlante, USC's women's coach, protested that Devers had jumped out of order in winning the long jump on her last attempt Friday. She had, but an official allowed her to do it and the protest was eventually rejected.

USC's Leslie Maxie had to run virtually two races to win the women's 400 intermediate hurdles.

The Accutrack timing mechanism and its backup facility malfunctioned after the start of the race. So a recall gun was fired, not once but twice.

Maxie said she didn't hear the first report until she was over the second hurdle and heard the second just before the fifth hurdle. Then, she slowed to a stop on the final turn--some 300 meters from the start--as officials franticaly waved flags.

So, 15 minutes later, the race was re-run and Maxie won in the time of 57.29.

USC's Morales, whose career has been marred by injuries, surprised Thomas and Mike Marsh, UCLA's defending champion, in the 100 meters.

Morales bolted out of the blocks ahead of the Bruins and held his advantage all the way, winning in 10.45 while bucking a head wind.

"I just put everything together today," said Morales, who came back to get second behind Thomas in the 200 in the personal best time of 20.44.

Other Trojans who contributed were Eric White and Steve Klassen, one-two finishers in the pole vault, and Eric Schermerhorn, who was fourth in the 800 in 1:48.74.

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