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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Matadors Double-Parked in Lead

Track and field: Prieto and Fowler of Northridge are atop standings after first day of heptathlon.

May 20, 1999|JOHN ORTEGA | TIMES STAFF WRITER

NORTHRIDGE — Cal State Northridge is one day and three events away from a big 1-2 finish in the heptathlon in the Big Sky Conference women's outdoor track and field championships at Northridge.

Junior Brandi Prieto led with 3,088 points and sophomore LaShaunda Fowler was second at 2,920 to put Northridge in that position Wednesday after the first day of competition.

The 5-foot-10 Prieto, who is favored to win her third consecutive triple jump title Saturday, performed well in her second heptathlon.

She began by winning the 100-meter high hurdles in a career-best 14.00 and had the top mark in the high jump at 5-4 1/4, a quarter of an inch off her best.

Her 32-11 effort in the shotput, perhaps her weakest event, was 13 1/2 feet behind event leader Hillary Merkley of Idaho State. But her 25.88 clocking in the 200 was second to Fowler's 25.43.

Prieto's score was 210 points ahead of her pace in the Mt. San Antonio College Relays in April when she totaled 4,710 points.

Fowler was 68 points ahead of her pace in that meet in which she scored 4,683 points.

"I feel much better," Prieto said when asked to compare her effort to the first day of the Mt. SAC Relays. "I'm much more prepared, both physically and mentally, for the heptathlon. I didn't know what I was getting myself into back then."

Fowler, who won the Big Sky Conference indoor title in the 60-meter dash in February, had the second-fastest time of the meet in the 100 hurdles at 14.05, but she was sixth in the high jump at 4-10 1/4 and seventh in the shotput at 31-5 1/4 before winning the 200.

A tender left ankle has prevented Fowler from training for the high jump in recent weeks and a mental mistake cost her points in the shotput.

Fowler's first put was in the 33- to 34-foot range, but that effort was disallowed because she exited the shotput ring at the front, instead of the back as the rules dictate.

Nonetheless, Fowler has a 47-point lead on third-place Merkley entering the final three events--long jump, javelin and 800--of the heptathlon today.

"We're not going for big scores, we're just going for 1-2," assistant Jeff McAuley of Northridge said. "The only score I care about is the [18 points we'll get for a 1-2 finish] and I told them that."

Northridge will not score any points in the decathlon as Matador junior Josh Morton withdrew from the competition Wednesday after failing to clear his opening height of 5-7 3/4 in the high jump.

With no points in the high jump, Morton had no chance of placing in the top eight in the meet in which the top eight finishers are awarded points on a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 basis.

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