A meet conceived two years ago will spring to life today when the California-Nevada collegiate track and field championships begin at UCLA’s Drake Stadium.
The two-day meet that features teams from 22 colleges, including Cal State Northridge, is the brainchild of the California-Nevada Track & Field Assn., an organization of collegiate track coaches and promoters that was formed in December 1992 with the intent of reviving interest in college track in the adjoining states.
A meet pitting teams from the NCAA Division I, II and III levels--as well as NAIA schools--was viewed as a way of reaching that goal.
“We felt that we needed to have something that is a marquee event for collegiate track and field in this state,” Northridge Coach Don Strametz said. “We felt that college track and field deserved a better shake than it was getting in this state.”
Coaches such as Jim Bush of USC and Bob Larsen of UCLA characterize Strametz as the driving force behind the meet, but Strametz says that it would not have been possible without the help of Fresno State’s Bob Fraley and Red Estes. Now that the meet has arrived, Strametz is delighted.
“Every coach that I have talked to has said that their teams are totally pumped up about this meet,” he said. “I think the kids are excited about it because it’s the first time it’s ever been done.”
Northridge junior Teresa Stricklin, who will compete in the women’s shotput and discus, summarized the athletes’ sentiments best during a press conference at UCLA on Tuesday.
“I love (the whole idea),” she said. “It’s intense. It’s going to have everyone there going against each other, head to head.”
Asked if she was excited about the meet, Stricklin said simply, “I’m beyond excited.”
Stricklin, Joe Hicks (men’s shotput and hammer), Kristin Dunn (women’s javelin) and Tannel House (women’s long jump and triple jump) are some of the top performers from Northridge.
UCLA, USC, Fresno State and Stanford appear to have the strongest men’s teams with UCLA, Fresno State and Stanford leading the women.
Five athletes who lead the yearly NCAA list will compete in the meet--John Godina of UCLA in the discus (204 feet 2 inches), Balazs Kiss of Hungary and USC in the hammer (248-10), Todd Reich of Fresno State in the javelin (258-5), Sau-Ying Chan of China and USC in the 100-meter high hurdles (13.14 seconds) and Amy Acuff of UCLA in the high jump (6-2).
USC’s Inger Miller has wind-aided times of 10.99 in the 100 and 22.47 in the 200 this year, is out with a sprained ankle.
Today’s competition, which begins with field events at 10 a.m. and running events at 11:15, consists primarily of qualifying.
The finals are scheduled for Sunday, starting with the women’s javelin at 10:45. Track events begin at 12:30 with the men’s 3,000-meter steeplechase.