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BIG WEST CHAMPIONSHIPS : Morales’ Bid for a Triple Ends Early

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Mike Morales’ bid for a weight-events triple at the Big West Conference track and field championships never reached first base Friday. The UC Irvine senior was upset by Utah State’s Craig Carter in the hammer throw.

Carter, who was redshirting this season until last week, when the NCAA granted him another season of eligibility, threw the hammer 211 feet 8 inches to better Morales’ 208-8. Morales finished second to Carter, a rerun of last season’s conference-meet hammer throw.

“He keeps stealing my show,” said Morales, whose only two losses to Carter have come in the Big West meet. “I’ll have to get him back at nationals.”

One reason Morales felt he had a legitimate shot at becoming the first athlete to win the hammer throw, discus and shotput at the conference meet was that Carter, who also was the defending conference discus champ, wasn’t supposed to be at Nevada Las Vegas this weekend.

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Or so Morales thought.

It wasn’t until Thursday night at 11 that Morales discovered Carter was in town.

“He really came out of the woodwork,” said Morales, who had a conference-best 212-0 mark in the hammer throw this season. “It was hard to believe he was here.”

Even harder to believe for some was how Carter gained another season of eligibility.

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Carter said he was a Proposition 48 casualty out of high school and had to sit out his freshman year (1986-87) at Utah State. He competed as a sophomore (1987-88) and junior (1988-89) but decided to redshirt this season so he could compete in 1990-91.

But Carter, claiming he wasn’t informed by Utah State officials of his options as a Prop. 48 athlete, petitioned the NCAA last month to retain his first season of eligibility.

The NCAA instituted Proposition 48 during Carter’s senior year of high school and, at the time, athletes had the option of accepting financial aid and losing their freshman year of eligibility or declining financial aid and retaining that year of eligibility.

The NCAA changed the rule the following year, making Prop. 48 casualties ineligible as freshmen regardless of scholarship status.

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Carter, who was married and whose wife had a child in the summer before his freshman year, took the financial aid. But in his appeal, Carter, now 22 and the father of three, claimed he was never informed of the option to decline a scholarship.

Carter said the NCAA on May 3 approved his request to compete for another season, with a stipulation that he repay the $3,000 he received in financial aid as a freshman by next September.

There was less than a month left in the season, but Carter, who had been in several invitational meets as an unattached competitor, decided to go ahead and compete this year as a redshirt junior. He will remain eligible for next season.

“That’s something new,” UCI Coach Vince O’Boyle said. “I think we’ll have to check that one out.”

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Carter went on to finish second in the discus Friday afternoon with a mark of 174-7, while Morales finished fourth at 157-9. The shotput will be held today.

On the flip side of Morales’ frustration was Irvine sophomore Matt Farmer’s elation. Farmer took a commanding lead in the decathlon, racking up 4,049 points, which surpassed his previous best first-day score of 3,975. Cal State Long Beach’s Shawn Wilbourn is second with 3,733 points.

Utah State, on the strength of a sweep in the discus, Carter’s win in the hammer and Bret Hill’s victory in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, led the meet after six men’s events with a team score of 65.

But Fresno State, which is strong in the sprint events, is still expected to win its eighth consecutive conference championship.

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The Bulldogs were in second place Friday with 59 points, followed by UCI (31). After four women’s events, Fresno State led with 42 points, followed by UNLV (28) and UCI (23).

Track Notes

Gaylen Ames, a former El Modena High School star now competing for San Diego State, had a busy day Friday, competing in four events of the heptathlon (100 hurdles, high jump, shotput, 200), the long jump, the javelin, and preliminary heats in the 100-meter and 400-meter hurdles. Ames led the heptathlon with 3,126 points, 78 points ahead of UNLV’s Deanne Moyle with three events remaining. She did not place in the long jump or javelin but finished fourth in her 100 hurdles heat and second in her 400 hurdles heat to qualify for today’s finals in both events. . . . UCI finished 1-3 in the women’s 10,000 meters, with sophomore Caroline Plier winning in 37:53 and senior Amy Dabul finishing third at 38:09.


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