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THE INSIDE TRACK | PAGE TWO

NCAA Dream Comes True for USC Swimmer Quance

March 27, 1997|RANDY HARVEY

Despite winning a gold medal in Atlanta last summer, Kristine Quance returned home to Northridge feeling like a failure.

Her only victory came in a relay, one in which she didn't swim the final leg. It could have been different if she had been able to compete in her best event, the 400-meter individual medley, but that wasn't to be after her controversial disqualification at the U.S. trials.

"I went through a month of really low times after the Olympics," she said this week. "I was really depressed, down on myself. I went to class and hated it. I went to the pool and hated it. I told my parents I wanted to quit school, and I wanted to quit swimming."

But while delivering a motivational talk at church to a group of teenagers, she did a rare thing for a speaker. She listened to herself.

"So what if I came just a little short of my dream?" she concluded, returning to the USC campus revitalized as a student and swimmer.

Last weekend, in the same Indianapolis pool where she met with her greatest disappointment last winter in the trials, she won her seventh and eighth NCAA individual titles.

More important to her, the Trojan women won the team championship in a stunning upset of Stanford, which had won five consecutive titles.

"I'd give up all eight individual titles just to experience that one team championship," she said. "They didn't come close to giving me the feeling I had after we won. None of us wanted to go to sleep because we thought we'd wake up and find out it was all a dream."

Asked if she will retire now, she said, "No way."

Quance, 21, said she is looking ahead to the 1999 world championships and 2000 Summer Olympics, both in Australia.

"I've never been so fired up," she said.

*

Although Stanford was upset in women's swimming, I still think the Cardinal will prevail in the NCAA women's basketball tournament. But it's doubtful the Pacific 10 champions would have advanced to this weekend's Final Four without Kristin Folkl. . . .

Folkl quit basketball to try out for the U.S. Olympic volleyball team, returning with only a few games remaining this season after an emergency call from Coach Tara Van Derveer. As the 12th woman, she scored 14 points in the West Regional final Monday against Georgia. . . .

Less gracefully than Quance, we presume, Tom Lasorda will swim in the 17th annual Swim with Mike Day on April 12 at the USC Olympic Swim Stadium. Proceeds benefit physically challenged athletes at USC. . . .

Nine days later, Lasorda and Sparky Anderson will be in Detroit for the introduction of Kirk Gibson's book, "Bottom of the Ninth." . . .

Sportswriters who knew Gibson during much of his career won't be surprised to learn that the event will be held at the Rattlesnake Club. . . .

He probably won't be offended by that line because, according to a publicist for Sleeping Bear Press, the theme of the book is about Gibson's evolution from an athlete with a chip on his shoulder to the nice guy he is today. . . .

A memorial service will be held Wednesday at 11 a.m. at Our Lady of the Lake Catholic Church in Lake Arrowhead for renowned figure skating coach Carlo Fassi, who died of a heart attack last week. . . .

Asked once to compare three of his most famous women's world champions, Fassi said: "Peggy Fleming was a Model T, Dorothy Hamill was a '56 Chevy and Jill Trenary was a Porsche. I hope Peggy doesn't get offended. When I competed, I was a bicycle." . . .

Another Kariya is going to play hockey for the University of Maine. Paul's sister, Noriko, was a heavily recruited field hockey star in North Vancouver, Canada, who recently signed with the Black Bears. . . .

You thought John Wooden had a good record? Coach Pat Henry's Louisiana State women's track team, favored in a meet Saturday at USC's Cromwell Field, has won 10 consecutive NCAA outdoor titles. . . .

What do Mack McCarthy of Tennessee Chattanooga, Mark Gottfried of Murray State, Steve Robinson of Tulsa and Ricardo Patton of Colorado have in common? They all got raises after Tennessee contacted them about a job. . . .

USC Coach Henry Bibby is going to the Final Four. He and his 1972 UCLA teammates will be honored in Indianapolis on the silver anniversary of their NCAA championship. . . .

Tennessee, call me.

*

While wondering if the San Antonio Spurs and Cleveland Cavaliers have started the second half yet, I was thinking: The NBA is not fan-tastic when Mike Fratello is coaching, it's no coincidence trouble follows Jerry Tarkanian, the Freeway Series was more intriguing before interleague play.

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