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NAIA Track Championships : Azusa Pacific, Competing at Home, Wins Sixth Title

May 29, 1988|SCOTT HOWARD-COOPER | Times Staff Writer

Azusa Pacific, dominating the three-day competition like few others in the previous 36 years, claimed its sixth consecutive National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics men's track title Saturday at Azusa Pacific, beating second-place finisher Prairie View A&M by 49 points.

In the first NAIA championship meet on the West Coast since 1958, when it was held in San Diego, the Cougars all but wrapped up the title after the second day, when they had a 55-point lead over Wisconsin Parkside. Saturday, they continued the runaway to become the first men's team to win six championships.

"Overall it was a very good meet for us," Azusa Pacific Coach Terry Franson said. "The first two days were very good. Today we faltered in a couple spots but overall we were real strong."

Azusa Pacific had won titles in West Virginia, Michigan and Arkansas. But Franson, concerned about expectations and possible distractions at home, had the Cougars stay in campus dorms, where most of the other teams were housed.

In the end, the results showed that his worries were unwarranted--or that his precautionary measure paid off. The 49-point win ties for the third-largest margin of victory in the history of the meet that started in 1952, and is the biggest since Azusa Pacific beat Saginaw Valley of Michigan by 58 in 1983.

Prairie View continued its hold on the women's competition, winning for the seventh straight time. The Panthers scored 93 points to beat Wayland Baptist, which scored 82 to finish second for the third year in a row. The Azusa Pacific women had a surprisingly good showing, finishing fourth with 52 points.

Franson was named men's coach of the year, and Azusa Pacific's Airat Bakare the women's athlete of the meet. She won the 200 and 400 and anchored the championship sprint medley and 1,600 relay teams.

Devon Morris of Wayland Baptist, who ran an impressive 45.45 to win the 400 and also won the 200 and ran the anchor for the victorious 1,600 relay team, was named men's athlete of the meet.

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