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COLLEGE ROUNDUP

Williams Is Dashing Again

June 02, 2002|ROBYN NORWOOD | TIMES STAFF WRITER

BATON ROUGE, La. — Angela Williams was chasing history.

Her newest USC teammate was chasing her.

Williams finished with a fantastic flourish, beating out fast-closing Natasha Mayers on Saturday to become the first person to win four consecutive NCAA titles in the 100 meters.

She did it by the slimmest margin, leaning to cross the line in 11.29 seconds, 0.01 ahead of Mayers.

"Oh man, I can't believe it," said Williams, overtaken with emotion and relief as the cameras closed in and she raised her arms to the crowd.

"I'm so glad it's over. I think that's what I was jumping up and down so much about. It's over.

"Such a big load has been taken off me. That was by a hair. I had to lean. I've never had to lean before."

Williams left victorious--and so did Mayers, who took second in the 100 and first in the 200 in 22.93 in a dramatic NCAA debut.

The defending champion Trojans settled for third in the NCAA track and field championships at Louisiana State's Bernie Moore Stadium, behind South Carolina and UCLA.

The top-ranked Bruins were overtaken by the Gamecocks after South Carolina finished 2-3-4 in the 400 meters, then clinched convincingly in the 1,600 relay with a collegiate record time of 3:26.46.

Lashinda Demus, a freshman from Long Beach Wilson High, led the way to the Gamecocks' first team championship in any sport, setting a world junior record in the 400 hurdles Friday, then finishing third in the 400 and running the anchor leg for the record-setting relay Saturday.

UCLA finished 10 points behind South Carolina's 82 despite an NCAA-record tying five individual championships.

Lena Nilsson added the 1,500 to the Bruins' cache Saturday and Jessica Cosby won the shotput, making UCLA the first school to win four field events. (The Bruins earlier won the pole vault, high jump and discus.)

USC, third with 57 points, couldn't mount a challenge after falling short of expectations in the throwing events.

The men's competition was won by host LSU, which clinched with a third in the final relay to finish with 64 points, seven ahead of Tennessee, whose Justin Gatlin became the first man in 45 years to repeat as 100 and 200 champion.

The USC men were 11th and UCLA was 30th.

There were many champions, but the day belonged to Williams.

The woman who tried to block Williams' path to history was Mayers, a 2000 Olympian for St. Vincent and the Grenadines who transferred to USC from L.A. Southwest College in the spring and became eligible only May 17.

"I knew that if she got in, she would be a threat to my title," Williams said. "It was kind of hard to stay serious and know that your main competitor is sitting in the back seat."

Mayers was practically in her back pocket in the final 30 meters, as the fastest closer bore down on the champion who is so explosive out of the blocks.

"I ran with everything I had," said Mayers, who collapsed after the race. "I never had a doubt in my heart I could have won the race, but ... another day."

The only other women to win four championships in one event were Suzy Favor of Wisconsin in the 1,500 in 1987-90 and Seilala Sua of UCLA in the discus from 1997-2000.

*

Two months after Minnesota's golf program was targeted for elimination, the Golden Gophers won their first national title.

The Gophers, reprieved when boosters raised enough money to reinstate the program for at least a year, shot a six-under-par 278 for a 1,134 total and a four-stroke victory over top-ranked Georgia Tech at Upper Arlington, Ohio.

Georgia Tech's Troy Matteson won the individual title, shooting a four-under 67 to finish at eight-under 276.

*

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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