Troy Collins, Chris Brown and Marshall Evans of Cal State Northridge produced personal best performances in their qualifying heats during the California-Nevada collegiate track and field championships at UCLA's Drake Stadium on Saturday.
The question is whether they will have anything left in today's finals.
Collins couldn't speak for Brown and Evans, but the fifth-year senior said he had plenty in reserve after running 1 minute 51.30 seconds in the 800 meters to place second in his heat.
"It felt good," he said. "It didn't feel that hard. I felt good throughout the race. It really wasn't that difficult."
Collins said that his time--which lowered his previous best of 1:51.78 set in 1991--was long overdue after running consistently in the 1:52-1:53 range for the past two seasons at Northridge after transferring from Southern Methodist.
"It's been frustrating because I've been running much better in practice than I've showed in races," he said. "It's really been a mental thing on my part. My body has been ready to run much faster, but my mind hasn't let me."
Northridge Coach Don Strametz echoed those sentiments.
"(He's) still not coming through the (600-meter mark) like he can," Strametz said, "But today was a breakthrough race for him. We've been waiting for this for a long time."
The heats of the men's 800 produced an abundance of quality marks. Youseff Choukri of Cal ran a solid 1:51.5, but failed to qualify for the final.
Collins' time moved him to 13th on the all-time Northridge performer list in the 800.
Brown's second-place effort of 47.94 in the 400 ranks 10th on the all-time Matador list.
Evans trimmed .01 seconds off his previous best in the 200 when he ran 21.49 to finish third in his heat.
"I think from the standpoint of this being the first (conference-type) outdoor meet that we have competed in the last three years, we handled parts of it very well and we didn't handle other parts of it quite so well," Strametz said. "I think this team will learn a lot and grow a lot from competing in this meet."
Joe Hicks, Mike McClintock, Ivy Calvin, Kristin Dunn and Beth Burton advanced to the finals of their weight events.
The Northridge women's team suffered a blow when Teresa Stricklin failed to advance to the finals of the discus.
Stricklin won the Pomona-Pitzer Invitational with a personal best of 164-8 on April 15, but her 146-8 effort Saturday was only good enough for 13th, four places shy of advancing to the finals.
"She just didn't throw well," Northridge assistant John Frazier said.
McClintock was the No. 3 qualifier in the javelin with a season best of 207-6. Hicks had the No. 4 qualifying marks in the shotput (57-7) and hammer (200-9), as did Calvin in the discus (169-10).
Dunn threw the women's javelin 152-11 to qualify second with Burton fifth (45-1 1/2) and Stricklin eighth (43-8 3/4) in the shotput.
Northridge's Terrence Carn appeared to get a bad break when he won his heat of the 400 intermediate hurdles in 53.12, yet failed to advance to the final because he had the 10th-fastest time overall.
His luck changed shortly thereafter, however, when Koutas Koutalas of Pt. Loma Nazarene--the No. 6 qualifier--withdrew from the final because that school's athletes do not compete on Sunday.
Sophomore Lori Miller was the only other Northridge athlete to win her qualifying heat, timing 4 minutes 37.62 seconds in the first section of the 1,500.
Based on the relative ease with which she ran, Miller appears capable of shaving several seconds off her personal best of 4:36.05 in today's final.
Marcus Reed of UCLA and Kipp Ortenburger of Fresno State, former standouts at Canoga Park and Taft highs, qualified for the finals in two individual events.
Reed had the No. 2 qualifying mark in the 100 (10.69) and the No. 5 mark in the 200 (21.37).
Ortenburger placed second in the third heat of the 800 (1:51.3) and was runner-up in heat two of the 1,500 (3:49.19).