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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS | THE COLLEGES

Matadors' Weakness Exposed in Loss to Lowly San Jose State

November 26, 1998| From Staff Reports

The Cal State Northridge athletic department has pressing needs--new facilities, more scholarships, additional academic advisors.

Bobby Braswell, men's basketball coach, would like to add to the list a strength coach.

It was one thing watching his team get pushed around under the basket against Tennessee, a top 20 team. It was quite another to see the front line of San Jose State--a team that won three of its previous 28 games--dominate inside during an 89-77 defeat of the Matadors on Sunday.

"We have a lot of finesse players," Braswell said. "A strength coach here would be a good addition."

As administrator in charge of athletics, Braswell can make his voice heard. But in an athletic department already strapped for cash, turning such a wish into reality is a longshot.

Northridge must rely for rebounding on tall, thin players such as 6-foot-9 Brian Heinle and Andre Larry, or short, wide bodies such as 6-5 Jeffrey Parris and Hewitt Rolle.

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Rico Harris, a 6-foot-9, 250-pound forward, is supposed to be the best answer to opposing bullies kicking sand in the Matadors' faces. The junior transfer averaged about 15 rebounds in each of the past two seasons at L.A. City College.

However, Harris has had enough trouble just staying in the lineup. He played only the first three minutes of the opener against Long Beach State before sitting the rest of the first half with two fouls. He returned to score seven of his nine points and grab all of his seven rebounds in the second half.

Harris was suspended against Tennessee because he broke a team rule, and he played poorly against San Jose State, getting six rebounds and making one of eight shots in 22 minutes.

"Rico is a high-profile recruit but you have to remember this is his first time playing at the Division I level," Braswell said. "There is an adjustment."

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"Off the record. . . . "

Eddie Lopez, men's cross-country coach at Glendale College, has used those three words to begin many a sentence with sportswriters over the years, but he wasn't mincing words Saturday after Glendale defeated Moorpark, 119-139, to win the state junior college title at Woodward Park in Fresno.

Glendale captured its second title in four years, snapped Moorpark's championship streak at two only two weeks after Glendale finished a disappointing fifth in the Southern California championships. Moorpark won that meet after finishing behind Glendale and Bakersfield in the Western State Conference final.

"We felt like [Moorpark] didn't give us a lot of respect after that meet," Lopez said. "[Moorpark runners Todd Disney and Rey Coronado] said that the only races that mattered were the Southern Cals and the state championships. But you know what? The other races do matter. The [WSC final] matters. To us, Southern Cals is just a qualifying meet. . . . But if the only two meets that matter are the last two, then they won the battle, but we won the war."

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Senior Amy Skieresz of Arizona capped a superb college cross-country career with a second-place finish in the NCAA championships at Rim Rock Farm in Lawrence, Kan., on Monday.

Although Skieresz would like to have won her final college cross-country race, she nonetheless became the first woman to place first or second in four NCAA title races.

Skieresz, a 1995 graduate of Agoura High, won the NCAA title in 1996 and finished second in 1995, '97 and this year.

She won 23 of 28 races during her college career, including 19 of 21 in the past three years.

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Moorpark will host the state junior college wrestling finals for the first time Dec. 4-5, and seven Raider wrestlers have qualified for the tournament.

Moorpark, defending state champion, will be represented by Chuck Sandlin (184 pounds), Melkon Melkonian (197), Dartanian Bagby (165), Ramon Rodriguez (149), Craig Baldwin (141), Armando Torres (133) and Jaime Reyes (125).

Sandlin, a sophomore from Camarillo High and defending state champion, was undefeated in three matches last week at the Southern Regional in San Luis Obispo.

Moorpark has won three state titles.

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A rematch of last season's junior college women's basketball state final between Ventura and San Jose might materialize this weekend in the Ventura Kiwanis tournament, which runs Friday through Sunday with a 4 p.m. championship game.

Ventura and San Jose are in opposite brackets. Ventura plays Taft in a first-round game Friday at 6 p.m. San Jose opens against Moorpark at 8.

Chaffey, L.A. Trade Tech, Cerro Coso and Sierra, a state semifinalist last season, also are entered.

Last March, San Jose (29-2) defeated Ventura at UC Irvine to win the state title, spoiling the Pirates' bid for an unprecedented third consecutive state championship and handing them their first loss in 33 games.

Kristine DeSimone and Stefanie Kawasaki are among five returning players for Ventura (4-1).

Staff writers Steve Henson, Vince Kowalick and John Ortega contributed to this notebook.

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