Scott Molina Continues to Dominate Triathlon : With Victory, He Goes 5 for 5 in L.A. Regional Race; Ernst Is Women's Winner

Times Staff Writer

In what is becoming triathlon's version of summer reruns, Scott Molina won the men's professional competition in the Los Angeles regional event of the U.S. Triathlon Series at Doheny State Beach Saturday at Dana Point.

That's five wins for Molina in the five years the event has been held.

Molina, who has won 23 of the 30 USTS events he has entered, was fifth after the 1.5-kilometer swim, the first leg of the triathlon. He finished the second leg--a 40-kilometer bike ride--in a virtual 10-way tie for first.

On the 10K run, Molina passed Michael Durkin about midway through and steadily built a lead.

"Michael is the best runner on the tour for the first two or three miles," Molina said. "But he kind of faded after that. I kind of chased him down. When I got in front I felt really comfortable."

He topped the field of 1,900 entrants in 1 hour 49 minutes 17 seconds and earned $7,000. Richard Wells (1:50:33) sprinted passed Mike Pigg (1:50:34) to take second place. John Devere (1:50:41) was fourth and Durkin (1:50:54) placed fifth.

Dave Scott, four-time champion of the Ironman in Hawaii, finished 30th. Scott injured his right leg in a biking accident Friday.

"My bike slipped on some slimy stuff on the road," he said. "I banged up my leg, and it was pretty tight today. I'm not offering any excuses, it just was."

Molina said: "I really expected Dave to be around the leaders. I kept looking for him, but he wasn't around."

In the women's professional competition, Joanne Ernst overcame an admitted weakness in swimming to win in 2:05:28.

Ernst, who had to withdraw from a USTS in San Diego last year when she could not swim past the breakwater, came out of the water in eighth place. She improved to third after the bike ride.

"I felt my primary goal was not to get too far behind in the water," she said. "The waves weren't too big today. I was happy just to get out there. I actually kept some people in sight. Usually I'm following everyone else in."

Because of her shortcomings in the ocean, Ernst, the 1985 Ironman champion, said she felt like an underdog coming into the competition.

"When we compete with a lake, I know people are looking for me," she said. "But today, I think people thought the ocean would do me in. I liked the feeling of not being a favorite. It gave me this feeling I could sneak up on people today."

Her 38:21 time in the run allowed her to win easily. She also won $7,000.

Carolyn Heins was second in 2:06:10, followed by Paula Newby-Fraser in 2:06:58, Juli Brening in 2:07:27 and Janet Greenleaf in 2:09:56.

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