College Division : Coach Credits Tradition, Top Assistants for Occidental's Track Success

Since becoming track and cross-country coach at Occidental College in Eagle Rock in 1980, Bill Harvey has made a habit of producing winning teams.

In the Southern California Intercollegiate Athletic Conference, Harvey's teams have won nine consecutive titles and the men have won seven of the last nine years. The men and women have also routinely finished in the top 10 in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn.'s Division III nationals.

But Harvey, 43, does not want much of the credit. He says the school's track prominence had been established long before he arrived as coach.

Since about the time Harvey started watching the Tigers compete when he was a child, in fact. The Occidental men have won 38 of the 42 conference titles since World War II and Harvey has had a firsthand view of the success.

He started watching Occidental track meets in 1950, when he was 4, going with his father, a graduate of the school who was an Amateur Athletic Union official assigned to the Tigers' meets.

"If you really think about it, a lot of my life has been focused on the people we've had here," Harvey said.

He competed as a shotputter and discus thrower at Occidental from 1963-67.

"I was kind of a middle-of-the-road type," he said. "I was good enough to compete in our conference."

After graduating, Harvey coached at Boca Raton High School in Florida, at Trinity University in San Antonio and at Canyon High in Canyon Country for seven years before moving on to Occidental.

There, Harvey's teams have also dominated the SCIAC in cross-country. The women have won the title seven of the last nine years and the men six of the last nine seasons.

He says the two biggest factors in the steady success may be the tradition that he inherited and the talented coaching staff that he has maintained.

The staff includes Mike Deller, Andy Steben and Christel Miller. Deller has been an assistant with the program for 12 years, Steben for nine and Miller for eight.

"We have a lot of coaches that have been here a lot of years and you just don't see that much in track and field," Harvey said. "It's a very solid organization and the tradition's strong and we're not going anywhere."

He said the continuity in the coaching staff makes it easier to recruit. Of course, the tradition and academic environment don't hurt either.

The Occidental women, undefeated in dual meets, have been led by Michelle Trimble, three-time All-American distance runner, Glenda Mitchell in the heptathlon and Louise Coulter in the discus and shotput. The men, also undefeated, feature Ben White in the long jump and triple jump, and Lionel Shaw in the 800- and 1,500-meter runs.

It is no surprise that the Tigers are heavily favored to win both the men's and women's titles again at the SCIAC championships under way this weekend at Pomona-Pitzer.

But Harvey also has high hopes for national title. Occidental has already qualified 15 men and women for the Division III meet May 24-27 at North Central in Naperville, Ill., and hopes to have 21 by the time of the meet.

Biola University of La Mirada didn't have to search far or long to find a replacement for Dave Holmquist, who stepped down as men's basketball coach to become athletic director two weeks ago.

The new Biola athletic director announced Monday that Howard Lyon, who has been a coach at the school for 17 years, has been named.

Lyon, 61, brings impressive credentials into his position. He was coach at Biola from 1971-78 and co-coach with Holmquist from 1979-88, posting a 401-143 record--a winning percentage of .737. He has a career coaching record of 726-276.

At Biola, his teams have won 20 or more games 13 times and 30 or more games twice. He was also named National Assn. of Intercollegiate Athletics District III coach of the year in 1972, 1974 and 1982 and was national coach of the year with Holmquist in 1982.

Lyon's teams also won five District III titles, three National Christian College Athletic Assn. championships and was NAIA runner-up in 1982.

"I was honored when Coach Holmquist asked me to coach one of the top programs on the West Coast," Lyon said. "It will be a pleasant challenge for my staff and me to maintain the standard of play that our loyal fans have enjoyed for the past several seasons."

Lyon announced that his assistants will be Harvey Tidwell, John Mayberry and Kirk Chittick.

There is no question about which College Division baseball team is the hottest in the Southland at the moment.

In the last five weeks, it has been Westmont of Santa Barbara. Since March 16, when the Warriors were 8-12, the team has won 19 of its last 20 games.

Westmont leads the Golden State Athletic Conference at 15-5 and 27-13 overall.

College Division Notes

In a matchup of two of the top-ranked NCAA Division II baseball teams, 10th-ranked Cal State Northridge and second-ranked Cal State Sacramento split a two-game series last weekend at Northridge. Northridge won Saturday , 2-1, and Sacramento won Sunday, 4-1. . . . The Cal State San Bernardino baseball team took a big step toward its first NCAA Division III playoff berth with a 7-5 nonconference win over 14th-ranked Claremont-Mudd-Scripps last week. The Coyotes, an independent with a 24-8-1 record, also defeated Claremont, 8-4, in the first game of the season. San Bernardino is ranked No. 7 and Claremont No. 16 in this week's Division III poll.

Cal Poly Pomona catcher Chris Goldbach's 30-game hitting streak was snapped in a recent loss to Chapman but still leads the California Collegiate Athletic Assn. with a .396 batting average, 65 hits and 47 runs batted in. His 30-game streak was second-longest in school history, behind Larry Beardman's 31 in 1983. . . . The CCAA has five of its six teams listed in the mid-season NCAA Division II men's tennis top 20 selected by the Intercollegiate Tennis Coaches Assn. Conference leader Cal Poly San Luis Obispo is ranked No. 2, Chapman is No. 4, UC Riverside No. 6, Cal State Bakersfield No. 18 and Cal Poly Pomona No. 19.

Cal State San Bernardino has earned a berth in the NCAA Division III men's golf tournament for the third time in the program's four-year history. The four-day tournament will be held May 23-26 at Central College in Pella, Iowa. The ninth-ranked Coyotes finished third last year.

Copyright © 2019, Los Angeles Times
EDITION: California | U.S. & World
56°