Eric Turner, a vicious hitter who helped Ventura High to the Coastal Conference final in 1984, entered fall workouts as the No. 1 free safety on the UCLA football team. A sophomore, Turner (6 feet, 1 inch, 200 pounds) impressed Bruin coaches last season when he took part in 335 plays, grabbing three interceptions, returning one 54 yards for a touchdown against Stanford.
"I feel happy, going in knowing I'm the No. 1 player," Turner said. "I'm eager and ready to play."
Last year most of Turner's playing time was at strong safety, where UCLA lacked depth. The change should be no problem for Turner, who says he prefers playing free safety. In the Bruins' system, the positions are nearly interchangeable.
"In our system free safety and strong safety are almost like left and right," said Tom Hayes, an assistant coach who works with the defensive backs. "Eric has impressive size and speed for a free safety. He and Darryl Henley and Marcus Turner have the most experience and we're looking for them to calm down the youngsters."
Add Bruins: Junior Laurence Burkley is in the unusual situation of battling for a starting job with a teammate who has no experience at that position.
Burkley, who attended Oxnard High, and senior Brendan McCracken, who made the transition from quarterback to receiver this spring, are listed in a deadlock at flanker.
"Laurence improved a lot in spring practice. We found out what he can do. He can run routes and catch balls. He's ready," said Karl Dorrell, a former Bruin receiver and now a graduate assistant working with receivers.
Burkley, who has yet to make a reception in college, is taking nothing for granted.
"I just feel I don't have the position yet," he said.
Regardless of who starts, the Bruins plan to give "five or six" wide receivers substantial playing time.
Last add UCLA: John Purzycki of Thousand Oaks and Cobi Jones of Westlake Village are members of the Bruin soccer team, which has 14 lettermen returning from a team that was 14-7-1 and advanced to the NCAA quarterfinals last season.
Purzycki, a senior defender, played 1,171 minutes last season. Jones, a freshman forward-midfielder, was an All-Southern Section performer at Westlake High.
Looking good on paper: California Football magazine chooses Oxnard as the favorite to win the Channel League, Thousand Oaks to win the Marmonte, Santa Clara to take the Frontier and Carpinteria to win the Tri-Valley.
The magazine contains an impressive overview of football in the state, but it is not without errors. Santa Ynez, which moved to the Frontier League this year, is listed as Carpinteria's top competition in the Tri-Valley, and Ventura is ranked a close second in the Channel because of Jason Matheny's skills at quarterback.
Matheny was a senior last season and is vying for the starting job at Ventura College.
Add football magazines: California Football also chooses a "Golden 50" seniors, who they feel are the best in the state. Running backs John Johnson of Channel Islands and Freddie Bradley of Hueneme are the only Ventura County players on the list.
Thirst-aid star: Angela Burnham of Rio Mesa High has been named the 1988 Gatorade California female high school track and field athlete of the year.
The state champion in the 100 and 200 meters as a junior, Burnham powered Rio Mesa to a share of its first-ever state title this spring. In July, she set a national age-group 100 record in the Olympic Trials in Indianapolis and placed sixth in the World Junior Championships in Sudbury, Canada, two weeks after that.
"I ran much faster than I ever expected," Burnham said of the 11.28 age-16 100 record she set at the trials. "It didn't feel that fast. I just got caught up with the competition and went with the flow."
Burnham's record run was a national high school leader and moved her to third on the all-time high school list.
New gymnastics coach: Yehuda Bello has been named the athletic director and coach at the Camarillo Academy of Gymnastic Arts. Bello, 27, trained Class 1 gymnasts at the United States Olympic Training Center at Colorado Springs, Colo.
Bello, who was named Israel's Sportsman of the Year in 1984 by the Israeli publication Aharonot and Maarez, is a U. S. Gymnastics Federation judge and is ranked among the top 10 coaches in technical skill by the USGF.
Serving notice: Although Thousand Oaks won the last two Southern Section 2-A Division volleyball championships, the Lancers were considered a longshot this season after losing several players to graduation.
But in the Prep National Tournament at Cal State Dominguez Hills last weekend, the Lancers showed they may still be a force to contend with. Seeded 13th in the 20-team tournament, Thousand Oaks finished third, winning 13 of 17 matches.
"Considering what people were expecting of us, I was very pleased with our play," Thousand Oaks Coach Ron Bieck said.
Junior setter Amy Chellevold was named to the all-tournament team and senior outside hitter Jamie Heggen was a second-team selection.
Rolling along: Five Ventura County youngsters have qualified for the National Junior Olympics roller skating competition Sept 3-4 in Troy, Mich.
The local entrants include: Lisa Gutierrez, 13, of Oxnard; Yesenia Jimenez, 11, of Oxnard; Brandie Sutton, 11, of Oxnard; Rene Tedder, 10, of Oxnard; and Nicole Alford, 8, of Somis.