Middleweight Michael Nunn and the Monroe High baseball team rose from obscurity to become champions and CS Northridge also took a huge step.
As North Hollywood boxer Michael Nunn fought his way through the middleweight ranks toward a title shot, criticism of his light-hitting style accompanied his ascent. Nunn kept his record perfect but his failure to deliver a knockout punch frustrated his supporters and provided ammunition for his critics.
But the 6-foot-2 southpaw silenced many of his critics with a big year in 1988. He scored five victories during the year, including four by knockout. After three defenses of his North American Boxing Federation title, he earned an International Boxing Federation title fight against unbeaten Frank Tate. He started the year fighting at the tiny Country Club in Reseda but by year’s end was a Las Vegas regular at Caesars Palace.
It was in Las Vegas that Nunn put himself in the national limelight with a ninth-round knockout of Tate. The victory earned him $125,000 and increased his record to 31-0 with 21 knockouts. In November, Nunn defended his world title with his fourth knockout of the year when he floored Juan Domingo Roldan in the eighth round of their bout in Las Vegas.
Monroe High squeaked into the City Section 4-A baseball playoffs as the fourth-place team from the Mid-Valley League with a 5-10 league mark (9-16 overall). In fact, the Vikings had to defeat Birmingham in a tiebreaker to advance to the playoffs.
The Vikings seemed primed to serve as fodder for such traditional powers as Chatsworth, which entered the tournament as the No. 1 team in the nation. But Chatsworth lost in the semifinals and when the City championship was presented at Dodger Stadium in June, the unlikely new champion was Monroe.
The Vikings registered three consecutive upsets--two in extra innings--and then defeated San Fernando in the final, 3-2. In five postseason games, junior Tim Costic was 12 for 20 with 11 runs batted in and five extra-base hits. Three times he drove home the winning run in Monroe’s last at-bat. As a pitcher, he also won two games and saved another.
Despite formidable questions over funding, Cal State Northridge announced its intention to petition the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. for a move up to Division I in all sports except football for the 1990-91 school year.
Through the 1988 school year, the Matadors had won 33 national championships in 12 sports over three decades at the Division II level. The school cited overwhelming community support as a primary factor in the decision, but that support apparently came with few dollar signs in tow.
Plans outlined by President James W. Cleary called for the construction of an 8,000- to 10,000-seat arena, and plans for a 20,000-seat multipurpose stadium had been approved. In order to field competitive teams, the annual price tag for the move will be $1.3 million, according to school sources. Previously, the most money CSUN had raised in a year was $150,000.
Notable: In a 41-21 loss to Servite in which he rushed for 162 yards, Crespi High’s Russell White ended his three-year varsity career as the state’s all-time leading rusher with 5,998 yards. He also scored three touchdowns to push his state records to 94 touchdowns and 568 points scored. . . .
In the same week, two of the area’s top high school athletes committed to Pacific 10 Conference schools. Taft High’s Quincy Watts, who won three individual state track titles, committed to USC four days before Don MacLean, who led Simi Valley to the Southern Section 4-A Division basketball championship, committed to UCLA. . . .
Mitchell Butler, who has joined MacLean at UCLA, led tiny Oakwood School to its first Southern Section title in any sport when the Gorillas defeated Hesperia Christian, 61-60, in the Small Schools final. In the quarterfinals, he scored 50 points in a 55-47 win over Ribet Christian. . . .
Scott Sharts ended his three-year baseball career at Simi Valley as the Southern Section’s all-time home run leader with 32. . . .
Royal won the Southern Section 4-A boys’ soccer title and Agoura won its third consecutive Southern Section girls’ soccer title with a 5-0 victory over Temple City. . . .
Junior Angela Burnham of Rio Mesa High won the 100 and 200 in the state track and field championships to lead the Spartans to a share of the girls’ team title with Bakersfield. Burnham ran a national age-16 record of 11.28 in the 100 in the Olympic Trials later in the summer. . . .
In front of the largest crowd to see a CSUN soccer match, the Matadors fell to Florida Institute of Technology, 3-2, in the National Collegiate Athletic Assn. Division II final. As runner-up, the Matadors matched their 1987 performance in what was supposed to be a rebuilding year for Coach Marwan Ass’ad’s program. . . .
CSUN volleyball Coach Walt Ker won his 300th career match to reach the NCAA Division II tournament. The Matadors reached the final but lost to Portland State in three games. . . .
Pierce won its second men’s volleyball state title in three seasons with a four-game victory over Long Beach City College.