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CAL STATE FULLERTON NOTEBOOK / LON EUBANKS

Gymnasts Pleasantly Surprise Rogers

March 29, 1995|LON EUBANKS

The Cal State Fullerton women's gymnastics season has gone even better than Coach Lynn Rogers had hoped.

The Titans won their third consecutive Big West Conference championship last weekend at UC Santa Barbara and have qualified for the NCAA West Regional April 8 at Oregon State.

"I really didn't think this team would develop as quickly as it has," said Rogers, named conference coach of the year at the meet. "We had lost some leadership and I didn't know where new leadership was going to come from since we didn't have any seniors on the team. I also knew that we would be asking a lot from so many freshmen, but they've responded well."

Rogers said he realized at midseason, that this team might be ready for a run at postseason recognition a year ahead of schedule. He began pointing the Titans for the Big West and NCAA regional meets, resting gymnasts with nagging injuries and trying to make sure there were no serious new ones.

"We don't have the depth of some of the top programs, and so we have to conserve at times and make sure the right kids are at the finish line when it comes time for that," Rogers said. "If you're in a situation like UCLA is, with so much depth, you can push a little harder."

Fullerton is seeded fifth among the seven teams in the regional, but Rogers says the Titans have a shot at reaching the national championship meet next month at Georgia.

UCLA is top seeded in the regional. Oregon State, Stanford and Washington are expected to be Fullerton's chief competitors from the West for a spot in the nationals. Only the regional winner is certain to advance to the NCAA finals, but the next seven highest-scoring teams from around the country also qualify.

"The difference in the top scores between the third- and seventh-seeded teams in our regional is very small, so it could be close," Rogers said.

The Titans faced Stanford twice, winning at home but losing on the road. "But we didn't field a full team for the meet up there because of injuries," Rogers said.

The Titans won the Big West meet without one of their better performances.

Cristi Clifford finished fifth in the all-around at the Big West meet after a fall on the beam. Fullerton sophomore Alexis Lott was second in the all-around to Utah State's Tricia Yamamoto.

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Soccer Coach Al Mistri is making plans for a big college tournament at Titan Stadium on the Labor Day weekend, beginning in 1996, if the NCAA approves the early start.

"We're not supposed to start play until the first Saturday in September under NCAA rules, but they've made exceptions for the kickoff games in football, and we hope they'll do the same in this case for soccer," Mistri said. "We'll seek permission for it at the next general NCAA convention."

Mistri's plan is to invite the top eight men's and women's teams in the state for a weekend tournament to crown State champions.

"We already have sponsorship money committed from Reebok International," Mistri said, "and we feel our stadium will be an ideal place for it."

The plan calls for each team to be seeded with the winners in the first two days advancing to championship matches on Labor Day.

"I'm excited about the way (Athletic Director) John Easterbrook and the university are behind it," Mistri said. "We are also looking into the TV possibilities with Prime (Sports), and some of the other sport channels."

Titan Notes

The screening committee for the Titan men's basketball coaching job is expected to submit a list of the leading candidates to Athletic Director John Easterbrook this week, with interviews expected to take place next week. . . . Two school records were set last weekend when the men's track team finished fourth in a nine-team meet at UC Irvine won by Iowa. Paul Ipek cleared 15-1 1/4 in the pole vault and John Kidd ran 15.54 in the high hurdles. Zaylore Stout has the Big West-leading mark in the triple jump at 48-5 1/4. The Titans will compete Saturday in the Riverside Track Classic. . . . The women's tennis team has improved to 8-7 after a 5-4 victory over Santa Clara Saturday and is scheduled to meet San Jose State today at 10 a.m at home. . . . Freshman Brandi Isgar was named Big West softball player of the week. Isgar, who pitched a perfect game against Bowling Green, has a 10-2 record. The Titans are 20-7.

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