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James Steers Northridge Men to Solid Cross-Country Finish

October 22, 1987|Times Staff Writers

Don Strametz, cross-country coach at Cal State Northridge, called it the best regular-season performance by a CSUN men's team since 1979 and the best by a women's team since 1983.

Strametz, who has been coach since 1979, was referring to CSUN's showing at Saturday's Cal Poly Invitational in San Luis Obispo, a meet loaded with Division I teams.

Led by a school-record performance by Will James, CSUN placed ninth out of 22 teams in the men's race and defeated Cal Poly SLO for the first time since 1976, 232-239.

The Mustangs were ranked 6th in the NCAA Division II poll; CSUN was 16th.

James was timed in 24 minutes, 27 seconds over the five-mile course to place 10th, breaking John Spillman's school record of 24:47 set in 1983. The CSUN men averaged 1:27 faster per runner than they did last year on the same course.

Darcy Arreola's set her third school record this season in the women's race as the Lady Matadors averaged 47 seconds faster per runner than last year's team.

Arreola was timed in 16:59 over the 5,000-meter course to place seventh as the Lady Matadors placed sixth in the team standings. Beth Milewski set the previous school record of 17:14 in 1981.

Although Strametz was pleased, he said the Matadors need to improve at the Division II West regionals in Seattle on Nov. 7.

"We'll have to run better in Seattle if we want to qualify for the national championships," he warned. "We can't be satisfied with this meet. If we are, we won't get to nationals."

Freshman Melissa Sutton led UCLA to the team title. Sutton, formerly of Newbury Park High, placed eighth with a time of 17:01.

Fowl play: Coaches have been known to do strange things to fire up football teams. One high school coach from the Midwest made news a year ago for biting off the head of a frog before a game.

So, what was a pile of feathers doing in the end zone of the Matadors' practice field Tuesday?

"It's a dead Thunderbird," Cal State Northridge Coach Bob Burt said.

Burt was kidding, but he delighted in the appearance of whatever kind of bird it once was.

"It's a good omen," he claimed. "I like it. A dead bird on the field."

Northridge plays host to the Thunderbirds of Southern Utah State on Saturday night.

Passing fancy: The 324 yards passing by Cal Poly San Luis Obispo quarterback Tom Sullivan in a 21-20 victory over Northridge last Saturday is the most by an individual against CSUN in the two years Burt has coached the team.

Sullivan, a junior transfer from Sacramento City College, is the top-rated quarterback in the conference, averaging 205 yards passing a game. Sullivan was 8 of 15 for 112 yards in the first half but 12 of 16 for 212 yards after intermission.

Quotebook: Burt, on his team blowing a 20-7 third-quarter lead against San Luis Obispo: "We just don't handle prosperity well. We got ahead and it was like the fat lady sang. She hadn't even cleared her throat yet. We got up on them and all of a sudden we were like the stock market."

Conversion diversion: The Matadors were 1 for 14 on third-down conversions and 1 for 3 on fourth down against San Luis Obispo.

Northridge quarterback Rob Huffman attempted 23 passes, the most since he attempted 28 in the Matadors' 30-0, season-opening loss to Boise State. Seven came on third or fourth down and six came after the Matadors fell behind in the fourth quarter.

Huffman attempted only three passes on Northridge's three possessions between the time the Matadors led, 20-7, early in the third quarter, and trailed, 21-20, midway through the fourth period. Two of those passes came on third down.

On the run: Northridge had at least 200 yards rushing for the fifth time in six games this season, running for 200 yards on 47 carries against San Luis Obispo, which still has the top-rated defense against the rush in the Western Football Conference.

In good hands: Cal Lutheran's Joe Monarrez leads the Western Football Conference in receiving with 36 catches. In Saturday's 29-11 loss at Santa Clara, Monarrez caught 4 passes for 26 yards and 1 touchdown. Said Monarrez: "Their cornerbacks were good. We thought we could get everything underneath, but they played up a little more than we expected. Their defense stopped our game plan, which was short passing."

Speaking of short passing: Tom Bonds, Cal Lutheran's 5-11 quarterback, needs just 19 yards to break the 7,000-yard mark for career passing.

The senior needs 1,540 yards to break Jim Lindsey's Division II record of 8,521 yards. The Kingsmen (2-4, 0-4 in WFC play) have five games left.

A short passing short: Running back Noel Chesnut is CLU's fourth-leading receiver with 11 catches for 19 yards. Subtract his longest reception of 22 yards and the other 10 have gone for minus-3 yards.

Lost--a CSUN football: If found, return to punter Trent Morgan. During practice last week, Morgan punted the ball up, up, and up. And it didn't come down.

Great hang time? Yes. The ball went above a light post behind the visitors bleachers at North Campus Stadium--and stuck on top.

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