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Conway Sets U.S. Mark; Dawn Sowell Runs a Fast 100

June 04, 1989|MAL FLORENCE | Times Staff Writer

PROVO, Utah — Hollis Conway cleared 7 feet 9 3/4 inches for a U.S. record in the high jump, and Dawn Sowell became the third-fastest women's 100-meter sprinter Saturday in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Track and Field Championships at Brigham Young University.

Conway allowed himself only a moment to savor the accomplishment after setting the record.

"As soon as I made it, I was thinking of my next goal," said Conway, a junior at Southwestern Louisiana State. "I don't want to put any limits on myself."

The bar was raised to 7-10 1/2, and Conway came close to clearing the height on his first two attempts.

"I was way over the bar on my first try and just came down on it," he said. "Then, I brushed it on my second attempt.

"Then, I wanted to jump at 8 feet."

He tried but didn't come close and called it a night.

Cuba's Javier Sotomayor is the world record-holder at 7-11 1/2.

Louisiana State's Sowell established herself as perhaps the world's premier woman sprinter now that Florence Griffith Joyner has retired.

Sowell easily won the 100 meters in 10.78 seconds, breaking her collegiate record of 10.93 set earlier this year. Only two women have run faster--FloJo with her world-record time of 10.49 and Evelyn Ashford with her 10.76.

It also was the sixth-fastest time, with Griffith Joyner owning the top four clockings and Ashford No. 5.

Conway, the surprise silver medalist last year in the Seoul Olympic Games, broke the U.S. record of 7-9 1/4 set in 1988 by Thomas McCants and Jerome Carter in the Jesse Owens meet at Columbus, Ohio.

Provo is an ideal setting for the high jump because of its elevation--4,500 feet. The last time the NCAA meet was held here in 1982, UCLA's Del Davis established an American record of 7-7 1/4.

"I've heard some great jump stories about this place," said Conway who stands 6-feet-0 1/4. "I couldn't wait to get here."

Conway's and Sowell's achievements were the obvious highlights of the closing night of competition. However, the 110-meter hurdles was the most stirring race.

Pittsburgh's Eric Cannon was first out of the blocks, but USC's Robert Reading gradually closed on him.

Reading was still slightly behind Cannon going over the 10th and last hurdle, but he leaned at the line to win in 13.19 seconds. Cannon was second in 13.21.

It would have been a personal best time for the ever-improving Trojan senior. However, the hurdlers had a aiding wind of 2.44 meters per second, barely over the legal limit of 2.0.

Nonetheless, Reading and Cannon have joined some elite company, hurdlers who are in the 13.2 range.

"We're gaining on 'em," Cannon said referring to such hurdlers as Roger Kingdom, Greg Foster and Renaldo Nehemiah.

Louisiana State dominated the team competition. The men's team won with 53 points followed by Texas A&M with 51 and Florida with 40. UCLA was sixth with 28 points. USC tied for 11th with 21 points.

The LSU women were runaway winners, as expected, with 86 points. UCLA made a strong showing in second place with 47 points, and USC's women were eighth with 19 points.

There's usually at least one mishap in a national meet and it occurred in the men's 1,500. Arkansas' Joe Falcon stumbled when a runner from behind him clipped his heel 300 meters into the race.

Then, as he tried to regain his balance, someone hit him and he was flung sideways onto the track. He got up and tried to continue, but soon dropped out.

"I don't know who did it, but someone pretty strong pushed me to get me out of the way," said Falcon, who had won seven previous NCAA titles in outdoor and indoor competition and cross-country. "I'm not bitter, but did it looked like I fell on my own? I can't understand why there was no red flag (signaling a disqualification).

Kip Cheruiyot and Peter Rono, the Kenyans representing Mt. St. Mary's (Md.) went on to a one-two finish. The winning time was 3:42.06. Rono was the Olympic gold medalist in the 1,500.

By winning the 110-meter hurdles, Reading became the first Trojan to get an individual title since Milan Stewart won the hurdles and Dave Kenworthy the pole vault in the championship meet here in 1982.

"I noticed Cannon was ahead at the first hurdle," Reading said. "I just chased and chased and chased him. He was still ahead at the 10th hurdle and then I gave 100 percent-plus and leaned at the line."

Cannon fell as he crossed the finish line, but he wasn't too disappointed in losing to Reading by two hundredths of a second.

"It was a classic duel between the best in the West and the best in the East," Cannon said. "I knew Robert was coming by the sixth hurdle and the race began at the seventh hurdle. I could hear his heart beating."

Reading hit the fifth and eighth hurdles in running down Cannon. He became the seventh Trojan to win an NCAA title in the 110-meter event starting with world record-holder Dick Attlesey in 1950.

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