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PAC-10 TRACK AND FIELD

USC Wins Men's Title; UCLA Women Repeat

May 19, 2003|Mike Terry | Times Staff Writer

The USC men pulled one out of the hat at the Pacific 10 Conference track and field championships Sunday at USC. For the UCLA women, the results were old hat.

When the Trojan men started competition Sunday, they were in fifth place and a longshot to win the championship. But USC scored a shocking 113 second-day points and skipped past defending champion Stanford, 139-128. Oregon was third with 127 points and UCLA was fourth with 123.

"Honestly, I thought we could get third," USC Coach Ron Allice said. "This morning I was on one knee, my lip was down, and guess what? The kids weren't down. They believed. And they didn't give up. They just kept coming."

UCLA outscored Stanford, 155-140, to win its seventh women's title in a row and ninth in the last 10 years. Arizona State was third with 109 points and USC was fourth with 101.

"Every year is different, every year brings a new experience," UCLA Coach Jeanette Bolden said. "The beauty of our team is we have such a balanced program."

But the UCLA women's win was expected. The USC men's victory was not.

What propelled the Trojan men to their first team title since 2000 were victories by Ryan Wilson in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles (13.42 and 49.33), Dawid Jaworski in the high jump (7 feet 3 3/4) and Julien Kapek in the triple jump (55 3/4); and Wes Felix in the 200 (20.81). But USC also got unexpected points, such as Tomasz Babiskiewiecz's second place in the 1,500 (3:45.85) and Rapheal Asafo-Agyei's second in the 800 (1:49.89).

By the day's final event, the 1,600 relay, the USC men only had to finish seventh to win the team championship. They finished third in 3:08.05.

"This is so huge," said Felix, who ran the second leg of the relay. "I just kept thinking that if we got to the relay with a chance to win, I'd like our chances."

The women's was also close -- for a while.

Although the Bruins started the day in third place, they were confident they had the depth to keep their title streak alive. Nonetheless, Bolden had a team meeting Sunday morning to reinforce the goal.

"She reminded us to do what got us here," said Sheena Johnson, who won the 110 hurdles (13.10) and later won her third consecutive 400 hurdles title (56.45).

Johnson was not the only big winner for UCLA. Candice Bauchman repeated as the triple-jump winner (42-6 3/4), finishing ahead of teammate Sheena Gordon (42-0 1/2). Lena Nilsson won the 1,500 -- giving the crowd a little bow at the finish line -- then returned to win the 800, making her the first female runner in the conference to repeat as champion in both events.

"I felt really good in both races," said Nilsson, a junior. "I knew the [4:13.21] I ran would not hurt me in running the 800 [2:03.86]."

And when Johnson, Dawn Harper and Sani Roseby finished first, second and fourth in the 110 hurdles, the UCLA women took over the team points lead from Stanford for good.

One of the top individual performances was turned in by Oregon pole vaulter Becky Holiday, who cleared 14-6. It was the eighth-best effort by an American woman, the third best by a collegian and second best in the world this year.

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