For a while, it looked as if the UCLA track and field team was on its way to establishing a mini-dynasty. The Bruins won their second consecutive national title in June and prospective members of this year's team scored 65 points for that championship.
But before the their first meet of the season, the Bruins have lost three key members, jeopardizing a third consecutive national title.
Danny Everett, who took the bronze medal in the Seoul Olympics in 400 meters and was a member of the gold medal 1,600 relay team, has decided to forgo his senior year to pursue commercial endorsements. Everett would have been defending his NCAA title in the 400 meters.
"Track's different from football and basketball, where there's money to be made every year," Coach Bob Larsen said about Everett. "In track, you have to be ready to take it while it's there, like a year after the Olympics. . . . We've always felt that it's important to do what's best for the individual, and this is a one-time opportunity for Danny."
The Bruins will also be without sprinter Henry Thomas and thrower Kamy Keshmiri. Thomas, who placed third at the NCAA meet in 200 meters and was a member of the record-setting 1,600 meter relay team, is redshirting this season and will compete unattached. Thomas had earlier said that he wanted to play football but, according to Larsen, now plans to concentrate on track.
Keshmiri, the 1988 Gatorade prep track and field Athlete of the Year, has withdrawn from school and returned home to Reno, Larsen said. Keshmiri redshirted last season while recovering from an injury.
UCLA still has 38 points returning from the championship meet. Expected to lead the Bruins are sophomore Steve Lewis, the Olympic gold medalist in 400 meters, and senior Mike Marsh, an alternate on the U.S. 400 meter relay team.
UCLA should also receive a boost from football player Kevin Williams, who will run track before and after spring football practice. Williams, one of the most highly recruited running backs in the nation last year, redshirted as a freshman and has a personal best of 21.09 in 200 meters.
"This looked like it was going to be our best team ever," said Larsen, who expects UCLA toughest competition to come from the universities of Texas and Florida. "Now, we're going to have to really work for it. It's going to be much more competitive."
With Feb. 8 the first day that high school seniors can sign letters of intent with universities, the UCLA football team appears headed for another top recruiting class.
The Bruins have received verbal commitments from Patrick Bates, a 6-5, 210-pound defensive back from Galveston, Tex.; Matt Werner, a 6-5, 245-pound defensive lineman from Anaheim, and Derek Stevens, a 6-4, 255-pound offensive lineman from Bakersfield, according to Allan Wallace, editor of SuperPrep magazine.
Bates, one of the most highly touted defensive backs in the nation, chose the Bruins over Nebraska, Michigan and Florida.
Stevens, named to the SuperPrep All-Far West team, had originally committed to USC, Wallace said.
Werner chose the Bruins over Cal and USC.
Other top recruits who have given the Bruins commitments:
- Quarterback Bert Emanuel (6-1, 175), Houston.
- Quarterback Tommy Maddox (6-5, 200), Galveston, Tex.
- Defensive back Robert Gamble (5-10, 175), Kansas City.
- Defensive back Garrett Greedy (6-3, 220), Anaheim.
- Tight end Brian Allen (6-4, 215), Valencia.
- Linebacker Carrick O'Quinn (6-3, 225), Agoura.
- Wide receiver Michael Moore (6-4, 190), Beverly Hills.
- Defensive back Travis Collier (6-3, 195), Palmdale.
Darryl Brown, an All-Camino Real League defensive back for St. Bernard High School, has committed to UC Berkeley, according to St. Bernard Coach Duke Dulgarian. Brown was also recruited by UCLA, Penn State and Notre Dame, Dulgarian said.