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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Northridge Pair Takes Heptathlon to the Max

Track and field: Prieto wins event and Fowler is second, giving Matadors 18 points in first event of Big Sky women's meet.

May 21, 1999|MITCH POLIN | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

NORTHRIDGE — From just about every perspective, the final result in the heptathlon couldn't have been better for Cal State Northridge on Thursday at the Big Sky Conference championships at Northridge.

Junior Brandi Prieto and sophomore LaShaunda Fowler went one-two, establishing career bests in the process, and the Matadors scored a much-needed 18 points in the first women's event.

"We've never had anyone score in the heptathlon before, so we usually go into the rest of the meet behind the others," Prieto said. "So, hopefully, this will give us a lift."

The only thing they didn't do was achieve their goal of surpassing the 5,000-point plateau.

Prieto finished with 4,986 points and Fowler 4,887--96 points ahead of Idaho State's Hillary Markley.

But as far as assistant coach Jeff McAuley was concerned, that was a minor glitch.

"I thought they both did a great job," McAuley said.

"The only purpose today was for them to do a 1-2 in the heptathlon."

So the Matadors are off to a good start in their quest for their second conference outdoor title in three years.

While they achieved their desired result, it didn't come without a little suspense along the way.

Northridge had the making of a disaster in the long jump when Fowler fouled on her first two attempts.

"I was afraid we were going to flush eight points down the toilet," McAuley said.

Fortunately, Fowler came through with a leap of 17-5 1/2 on her final attempt to finish second behind Prieto, who cleared 18-3 1/4.

"I think [McAuley] was more nervous than I was," Fowler said.

Fowler had little difficulty in her final two events, finishing second in the javelin at 106-1 and third in the 800-meter run at 2:21.90.

As for Prieto, there was never much doubt about winning the heptathlon, especially after she started off her day by taking the long jump.

Prieto had to settle for eighth place in the javelin despite a career best of 81-3.

Prieto, two-time defending outdoor conference champion in the triple jump who has won three consecutive indoor titles, only needed to finish at 2:43 or faster in the 800 to wrap up her first heptathlon title.

She accomplished that and then some with a time of 2:21.77.

Even better for the Matadors, Prieto and Fowler are healthy heading into the final two days of the meet.

That is essential to Northridge's title hopes since they each will be competing in four more events.

Prieto will compete in the 100-meter low hurdles, long jump, triple jump and 1,600-meter relay. Fowler is entered in the 100-meter dash, the 100 hurdles, long jump and 1600 relay.

Stevie Keller gave Montana State an early advantage in the men's meet by winning the decathlon with a conference championship record of 7,477 points.

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