Ever since high school, sprinters Tony Miller of UCLA and Quincy Watts of USC have been rivals on the track but friends off it.
Miller (San Francisco Riordan) and Watts (Taft), who were considered two of the nation's top prep sprinters, became friends when they were teammates for the West Valley Eagles, an age-group track club.
On Saturday, Miller will be matched against Watts in the sprints and the relays at the annual UCLA-USC men's and women's track-and-field meet at UCLA's Drake Stadium. Brigham Young University will also be competing.
"We've always been pictured together as rivals," Miller said. "It's always been Tony against Quincy. I think the competition is what drew us together and made us friends."
Watts ran the nation's third-fastest 400 meters this year, finishing second to Steve Lewis (Santa Monica Track Club) in 44.46 two weeks ago at the Mt. San Antonio College relays.
Although he is recovering from an injury to his right foot, Miller has run 10.33 in the 100 meters and a wind-aided 20.69 in the 200 meters, both provisional qualifying times for the NCAA outdoor championships.
Miller said that both he and Watts signed letters of intent with USC in 1989. Miller, however, had trouble passing an aptitude test required under Proposition 42 to earn a college scholarship and decided to enroll at East L.A. College, where he did not compete in track.
"I could have gotten into USC, but it was late in the year," Miller said. "By that time, I realized I would be better off running for another school. I wanted to be with Quincy. I even tried to transfer to Taft during my senior year in high school.
"But I started to look at college realistically. USC is a good school and I don't want to put it down. But I looked at the graduation rate of their athletes and I didn't like what I saw.
"A degree from (UCLA) really means something to me, and I really wanted to concentrate on my academics."
Miller also realized that he had lost a step to Watts after breaking a bone in his right foot during his senior year in high school. He didn't want to play a secondary role to Watts in the sprints.
"I wanted me and Quincy to be best friends," Miller said. "Even though we were friends, I didn't want to be in his shadow."
On Saturday, Miller is expected to run in the 100 and 200 meters and the 1,600-meter relay. It is likely that Miller will run the anchor leg against Watts in the 1,600. The sprinters may also meet in the 400-meter relay.
"I feel like I love him like a brother," Miller said. "I feel like his dad is my dad and his aunt has been like a mom to me.
"But when we get on the track, it's business. When we're in the blocks, it's every man for himself."
Overlooked?--Michael Moore, a standout baseball and football player at UCLA, received a rude awakening when he was not selected in this week's NFL draft.
"I'm disappointed to a certain extent," Moore said. "I wasn't counting on anything."
Moore, a 6-foot-4, 210-pound receiver, announced in January that he would forgo his final two seasons of football to become eligible for the draft. He was the Bruins' fourth-leading receiver last season with 16 receptions for 283 yards and no touchdowns.
Moore is also a solid baseball player. Some scouts have predicted that he will be selected in the first round of the June amateur draft. Last year, Moore batted .328 with eight home runs, 28 runs batted in and 22 stolen bases.
"I hope baseball was the reason, otherwise, I can't understand why I wasn't drafted," Moore said. "I would think a team would be willing to waste a 12th-round pick or something."
Dallas Cowboy scout Jeff Smith said NFL teams had only three days to see Moore work out.
"I think one of the main reasons he wasn't picked was because he is highly regarded as a baseball prospect," Smith said. "I can't give you a definitive reason because I don't know.
"I know at our place we had him as a prospect and liked what we saw. (But) we drafted a receiver in the third round and we had to fill other needs."
On the rise--UCLA pitcher Lisa Fernandez got the best of Cal's Michele Granger twice as the Bruin softball team swept a Pacific 10 Conference doubleheader from the Bears, 2-0, 4-3, Saturday at Sunset Field.
In the first game, Fernandez pitched a one-hitter with no walks and seven strikeouts. Granger gave up two runs, one earned, on six hits and a walk.
In the second game, Fernandez replaced starter Heather Compton in the 12th inning and retired the side. Granger, who replaced Robyn Burgess in the eighth, gave up one unearned run on three hits and one walk. Yvonne Gutierrez went five for six with two RBIs and three stolen bases.
Fernandez had four of the team's six victories last week as the top-ranked Bruins (46-1, 13-1 in conference play) swept three doubleheaders.
Leaping to new heights--The Beverly Hills boys' track team gave Morningside its first loss in a league dual meet in eight years, 69-67, Thursday at Morningside.