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COLLEGE ROUNDUP

Bruin Women Clinging to Lead

June 01, 2002|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BATON ROUGE, La. — That USC-UCLA duel for the women's NCAA track and field championship isn't materializing quite as expected.

It's looking more like UCLA and the "other" USC--the University of South Carolina--entering the final day of competition today at Louisiana State's Bernie Moore Stadium.

The defending champion Trojans are in fourth place and not in good position even though Angela Williams will attempt to win a fourth title in the 100 meters.

UCLA--ranked No. 1--is in first with 44 points after winning its third individual championship Friday when Chaniqua Ross took the discus with a throw of 182 feet. Teammate Lara Saye was fifth. (UCLA already had titles from Tracy O'Hara in the pole vault and Darnesha Griffith in the high jump.)

South Carolina--a school that has never won a team title in any sport in its 200-year history--is second with 40 points, followed by Florida (24) and USC (19).

The Gamecocks were bolstered by a victory in the 400-meter relay--USC took third--and a dominating performance in the 400-meter hurdles.

South Carolina freshman Leshinda Demus set a world junior record in that race, winning in 54.85 seconds to break the mark of 55.20 set by Leslie Maxie of the United States in 1984. The Gamecocks also took second and sixth to score 21 points in the event.

"Everybody's been talking UCLA, USC, but we know South Carolina is very into this," UCLA Coach Jeanette Bolden said. "They've been up there ranked No. 1 this year too. We know they're totally capable of doing what they did today."

The Bruins also earned points on Sheena Johnson's fourth in the 400-meter hurdles in a personal-best 55.71 seconds, the fourth-best mark in school history.

USC scored with a third-place finish by the 400-meter relay team of Williams, Disia Page, Natasha Neal and Kinshasa Davis in 43.80--the Trojans' fourth consecutive top-three NCAA finish in that event--and Aleksandra Deren's seventh-place finish in the 800 meters.

"In this meet, South Carolina and UCLA are doing everything they need to do and doing it well and deserve to win," USC Coach Ron Allice said. "We've had some letdowns, but that's part of track."

The focal point today will be the women's 100. Williams eased into the final with an 11.41 in the semifinals, finishing second to teammate Natasha Mayers in her heat.

Mayers, who became eligible for the Trojans last month after transferring from L.A. Southwest College, had the fastest time (11.28).

The other competition is LSU's Muna Lee. South Carolina sprinter Aleen Bailey didn't make the final after being disqualified for a false start.

Mayers is intriguing because of her late arrival, and because of her times.

Unlike Williams, she has been below the public radar.

"She's my teammate. We're just going into the race trying to win together," Mayers said.

In the men's competition, LSU leads with 39 points, with South Carolina, Florida, Tennessee and Georgia in the mix.

USC is tied for 11th after Julian Kapek finished third in the triple jump with a mark of 54-43/4.

The Trojans' 400-meter relay team ran a season-best 39.27 to finish fifth.

The Bruin men picked up their first points with a strong performance in the discus. Scott Moser was fourth and Dan Ames was eighth.

*

Top-ranked Georgia Tech and Alabama Birmingham's Graeme McDowell overcame the difficult conditions to top the team and individual leaderboards at the NCAA men's golf championships at Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Tulsa is second in the team race, a stroke behind the Yellow Jackets. McDowell leads the individual race at eight-under 205. Oklahoma State's Hunter Mahan (67) was a shot back.

*

UCLA's Stacey Nuveman and Natasha Watley and Arizona's Jennie Finch are finalists for the USA Softball collegiate player of the year.

*

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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