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THE COLLEGES : Cal State Fullerton Notebook / Elliott Teaford : Regionals Hold NCAA Key for Titan Gymnasts

These are nerve-racking days and nights for Lynn Rogers.

His mind is filled with thoughts of tenths and hundredths of points and of consistent performance and of a sore elbow.

Rogers, Cal State Fullerton women’s gymnastics coach, is anxiously awaiting the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. West Regional meet at 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Titan Gym.

If all goes well, the Titans will finish second behind UCLA and qualify for the NCAA meet April 14-15 at Athens, Ga. If it doesn’t go as planned, Fullerton might miss out on the NCAA meet for the third consecutive season.

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The Titans had made 11 NCAA meets in a row before the string was broken in 1987 and returning has been weighing heavily on Rogers’ mind.

“We need to get back in the NCAAs,” Rogers said. “It’s been a couple of years for us. But the girls have been very consistent all year.

“If UCLA hits and we hit, we’ll finish second. I’d be disappointed if we finished anything less than second.”

Fullerton appears to have a good shot at being one of 12 teams in five regions around the country to advance, but Saturday’s meet will be the major determining factor.

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The team comes into the meet with the second-highest average score, behind UCLA, in the West. The Titans have a 190.94 average to UCLA’s 192.19. Oregon State, the defending regional champion, and Washington, which nosed out Fullerton last season for the final spot, also will compete Saturday night.

Stanford, California and Boise State and gymnasts hoping to qualify for the nationals as individuals will compete at 4 p.m. Saturday. Those three teams are considerably behind the four who will compete Saturday night in point totals.

Fullerton is sixth-ranked nationally, which leads one to believe that the Titans should advance to Athens.

However, the average going into the regional meet counts for only one-third of final season total with the regional meet score making up the other two-thirds.

Last season, the Titans finished fourth in the regional meet and missed out on the NCAA meet by a meager .02 of a point.

To make matters worse, Fullerton actually needs to finish among the top 11 teams since the Midwest Region is so weak it’s given an automatic berth to the NCAA meet. Ohio State, though it will not score as high as Fullerton is likely to, will likely be the team to knock out the team that places 12th.

The competition among the top-ranked teams around the country has been close and that makes predicting who will advance even more difficult. Currently, there were only 1.9 points separating the top six teams’ averages.

Furthermore, Margot Gumerlock, one of Fullerton’s most consistent all-round performers, is nursing a sprained elbow and Rogers said she is questionable for Saturday’s meet.

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“It’s definitely going to have some impact on us,” Rogers said. “She’s not been practicing (since she hurt it last Thursday). We’ll have to wait and see.”

Lisa Dolan, a sophomore from Waterloo, Iowa; Stacey Harris, a sophomore from Del Mar; and Heather Thomas, a junior from Dublin, Ohio, have been the team’s top athletes this season.

Dolan, an All-American last season on the balance beam, and Harris qualified for the NCAA meet as individuals last season as freshmen.

With Gumerlock injured, Rogers is counting even more than usual on consistent performances from the other three.

“It really comes down to this one meet,” Rogers said.

Add gymnastics: The men’s team awaits the results of several meets around the country this weekend to see if it qualifies for the NCAA meet, which will be April 13-15 at the University of Nebraska.

Fullerton finished fifth in the Pacific 10 meet Friday and Saturday at California.

UCLA, which scored 282.05 points, won the meet ahead of Stanford (281.00), Arizona State (277.55), Cal (276.65) and Fullerton (266.55).

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Eli Rodriguez had the best showing for Fullerton, finishing 11th in the all-around competition. Rodriguez also was third in the vault, fifth in the pommel horse and seventh in the rings.

Amir Kadury added an eighth-place finish in the vault.

The Titan baseball team begins Big West Conference play with a three-game series against the University of the Pacific starting Friday.

The Titans went south for a three-game series against Florida State and a two-game set with South Alabama and came away with a 2-3 mark.

Fullerton begins Big West play with an 19-10 record. The Titans fell out of the Collegiate Baseball-ESPN poll this week and are ranked 19th by Baseball America. Last week, they were 16th in the Collegiate Baseball-ESPN poll and 17th in the Baseball America poll.

Add baseball: Mike Harkey, former Fullerton pitcher, was optioned Monday by the Chicago Cubs to Iowa, the team’s triple-A affiliate.

Harkey, a right-hander, had been suffering from tendinitis in his pitching shoulder and had a 1-4 record with an 8.84 earned-run average this spring.

He was 0-3 with a 2.60 ERA with the Cubs last September after posting a 16-4 record with Iowa and Pittsfield, Mass., the team’s double-A affiliate.

Harkey was the fourth player selected in the June 1987 draft after a 10-2, 101-strikeout junior season at Fullerton.

The football team opens spring workouts at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday looking for help on defensive and, for the time being, at punter. Coach Gene Murphy has only three players back on defense from last season and filling the vacancies is a top priority.

He had seven new recruits this spring and expects 14 more newcomers in the fall.

“We threw all our eggs in one basket and tried to have one big season last year, but it didn’t work,” said Murphy, whose team finished 5-6. “That’s why we’ve tired to go back to high school recruiting.”

One of those high school recruits is Phil Nevin, a kicker from El Dorado High School. Murphy could use him as a punter too.

Kurt Bloedorn, who was a junior last season, left school to attend Naval flight-training school, leaving the Titans without a punter.

“We’ve got some guys that are coming in the fall,” Murphy said. “Nevin can do both. His leg is strong enough. We’ll see if he can or not.”

Titan Notes

Despite falling in the quarterfinal-round of the Pony tournament this past weekend, Fullerton’s softball team maintained its No. 5 ranking in the NCAA softball poll. The Titans (25-5 overall, 9-1 in Big West play) were beaten by Arizona, 4-1, Sunday. Oklahoma, which knocked off top-ranked Fresno State and Arizona to win the Pony title, moved up to the top spot. Fresno slipped to No. 2. Fullerton plays at Cal State Long Beach Thursday at 4 p.m., then returns home to play Cal Poly Pomona Saturday at 1. . . . The basketball team banquet will be at 6:30 p.m. April 7 at Racquetball World in Fullerton. Tickets are $20. For information or reservations, call 773-3507.


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