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COLLEGES / ALAN OTA : UCLA Distance Runner Is on Track to Qualify for NCAA Meet

March 18, 1993|ALAN OTA

If senior Jim Robbins reaches his objective this spring, he will be the first UCLA men's distance runner to qualify for the NCAA championship in six seasons. Through the first weeks of the season, Robbins may be on schedule to achieve that goal in the 1,500-meter run.

The last Bruin to compete in the national meet, Mark Junkermann, was the steeplechase runner-up in 1987.

Two weeks ago at Cal State Los Angeles, Robbins won the 1,500 in three minutes 54.33 seconds. Last week at Azusa Pacific he won the 800 in 1:52.70. Both victories were accomplished with a strong kick.

"When he's in shape, Jim finishes off his races well," Bruin Coach Bob Larsen said. "And he's in excellent shape. He's got some speed there. Those were good, solid early season times."

As a senior at Corona del Mar High, Robbins was the ninth-fastest miler in the nation, having run the metric equivalent in 4:10.84. Robbins feels he is better prepared now than in previous seasons to fulfill that potential.

"On Sundays, since December, I've been doing 12 to 15 miles on the grass on San Vicente," Robbins said. "That's made a difference. I've always had more natural speed than endurance. I'm just working out harder."

Qualifying for the nationals is also the aim of two of Robbins' teammates: sophomore Creighton Harris in the 10-K run and senior Brent Jones in either the 800 or 1,500. And according to Robbins, that shared sense of purpose has benefited the group.

"This year we're a lot more focused," Robbins said. "All of us are working harder and helping each other. And so far we're all pretty much on track."

The NCAA qualifying standard in the 1,500 is 3:41.40, and Robbins sees the Cal meet in two weeks as an important gauge in evaluating his progress.

"I've certain goals during the course of the season in each meet and eventually hope to get my time down there," Robbins said. "At Cal, I feel I can run a 3:47."

As a sophomore, Robbins achieved the fastest times of his career in the 1,500 (3:47.71) and 800 (1:50.87), but as a junior his best times in both events was four seconds slower.

"Last year I had a much heavier course load," he said. "I spent more time studying than running. And it took away my intensity. It was a disappointment. And that did help to stiffen my resolve and made me more determined in what I want to accomplish this spring."

UCLA sophomore John Godina took third place in the shotput with a put of 62-feet 9 1/4 inches and junior Joe Bailey was sixth with a put of 60-11 1/2 at the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships last week in Indianapolis.

In the women's shot, junior Dawn Dumble finished third with a put of 54-7 1/4 and senior Jennifer Whelchel was seventh at 49-8 1/2.

"I was really pleased, since this is just preparation for nationals outdoors," UCLA weight events Coach Art Venegas said. "We're hungry to get this spring season going."

Venegas is hopeful that the sizable Bruin presence at the indoor meet will pay dividends in recruiting.

"We were the only school to have all the weight events covered," Venegas said. "It was good for people to see that UCLA uniform, which helps if we happen to be recruiting back East. Someone can see us and know we have a pretty good program."

With UCLA's victory over Pacific last week, Bruin Coach Al Scates became the first collegiate volleyball coach to win 800 matches. In his 31-year career at UCLA, Scates has an 800-129 record. He has the highest winning percentage (.861) and most national championships (13) among college coaches.

The top-ranked Bruins will play at No. 6 USC in the Lyon Center at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Forward Natalie Williams of the UCLA women's basketball team was named to the All-Pacific 10 Conference team for a second time.

The 6-foot-1 junior led the Pac-10 in scoring (21.2) and rebounding (13.5). Bruin guard Nicole Anderson, a 5-5 senior who averaged 13.3 points and five assists, was also selected. Michelle Palmisano, a 5-9 guard whose 49 three-point field goals set a new UCLA single-season record, was named to the Pac-10 all-freshmen team.

Pepperdine guard Aimee McDaniel was named to the All-West Coast Conference team. The 5-6 junior led the Waves in scoring (14.4), rebounding (5.3) and assists (4.4) and led the conference in three-point shooting with a .450 percentage. Junior forward Nikki Brodowy, who averaged 11.5 points and 5.2 rebounds, was an honorable mention selection.

Notes

The No. 4 Pepperdine men's volleyball team will play host to UC Irvine tonight and Loyola Marymount on Saturday. Both matches begin at 7 p.m. First-year coaches Andy Read of Irvine and Rick McLaughlin of Loyola were former Pepperdine assistants under Wave Coach Marv Dunphy.

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