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COLLEGES / ALAN OTA : Flowers' Career Finally Blossoms

April 22, 1993|ALAN OTA

UCLA junior Ross Flowers ran a lifetime best in winning the university-open division 110-meter hurdle event at the Mt. San Antonio College Relays last weekend, a year and a half after undergoing major surgery on his right leg.

"This year I feel good," Flowers said. "I've gained a lot more speed and strength. And I'm just trying to build on that."

His time of 14.10 seconds is the second-fastest in the Pacific 10 Conference.

"Ross is now definitely showing what he's capable of," said Arizona assistant Fred Harvey, who tried to recruit Flowers out of Garfield High in Seattle.

Flowers originally injured his leg as a high school sophomore.

"I was told it was either a stress fracture or bad shinsplints or it was nothing," Flowers said.

Flowers won the state championship as a senior year with the nation's 10th-fastest time.

But as a freshman at UCLA, Flowers' leg problems worsened.

"Workouts were a lot harder than in high school," Flowers said. "It took a toll."

After a magnetic resonance imaging test confirmed a stress fracture, surgery was performed in November, 1991. A rod was inserted to give the leg stability. The recovery lasted five months.

In 1992, Flowers placed fourth in the hurdles at the Pac-10 meet with a best time of 14.23.

"Last year was the first time Ross was able to complete the entire season," sprint coach John Smith said. "And now he's already ahead of where he was then. I expect him to run sub-14 any minute now."

Flowers might get that chance on Saturday when UCLA plays host to USC and Arizona at Drake Stadium. Wildcat junior Leo Simmons is the conference leader with a time of 14.07.

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Bruin senior Tony Miller, the defending Pac-10 champion in the 100 and 200, ran a seasonal-best 10.32 in the 100 at Mt. SAC.

"Right now, I feel great," Miller said. "At the start of the season I was a little nervous thinking about my hamstring injury from last year. But in the last couple of weeks, I've been feeling more focused."

Miller had established himself as the nation's fourth-fastest prep in the 100 as a junior at Riordan High in San Francisco in 1987. He then broke a foot as a senior and did not compete for three years.

Miller will run against USC junior Jeff Laynes, who is the conference leader in the 100 with a time of 10.23 and was runner-up to Miller in last year's Pac-10 meet in the 100 and 200.

"I think he's a fine runner," Laynes said. "If he continues on as he has, he'll be one of the best."

The UCLA sprint relay team of senior Derrick Baker, freshman Gentry Bradley, junior Marcus Reed and Miller has the fastest time in the conference this year. And Miller is perfectly suited for his role as anchorman, Bradley said.

"Everybody looks up to him and gives him the respect he deserves," Bradley said.

Miller is looking forward to the NCAA championships.

"Pound for pound, we have to be the best sprint relay team in the country," he said. "With some precise handoffs, there shouldn't be a team that can mess with us."

Notes

Members of the Bruin men's and women's track team that posted personal bests at the Mt. San Antonio College meet were senior Brent Jones in the 800 (1:50.59); sophomore Brian Gastelum in the 1,500 (3:51.04); freshman Mark Parlin in the shotput (58-3 3/4) and junior Beth Bartholomew in the 3,000 (9:28.11).

Saturday's UCLA track meet will be televised by Prime Ticket on Sunday at 1 p.m. In women's competition, USC's Felice Lipscomb, a junior from Santa Monica High, leads the Pac-10 Conference with a 13.56 in the 100-meter hurdles.

The Pepperdine baseball team (27-12, 14-4 in the West Coast Conference) will play a three-game series at the University of San Francisco this weekend. The Waves, ranked No. 12 by Collegiate Baseball, are led by senior catcher Scott Vollmer, who is batting .309. Freshman right-hander Jason LeBlanc has won his past four decisions and is 4-2 with a team-best 1.92 earned-run average.

The third-ranked Pepperdine men's volleyball team (16-5, 13-5 in the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation) completes its regular season at Loyola Marymount on Sunday at 6 p.m.

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