Williams blazes to fourth NCAA 100-meter crown

Posted: Sunday, June 02, 2002

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) -- One of the sport's smallest performers left a big mark on NCAA track and field Saturday night.

Angela Williams, the 5-foot-2 sprint sensation from Southern California, won her fourth NCAA 100-meter title, raising her hands in triumph to the cheers of the crowd.

She is the first sprinter, male or female, to win an event four times in the NCAA outdoor championships.

''It's like my freshman year I came in and the crowd was roaring, and now I'm leaving and the crowd is roaring.'' Williams said. ''I went out with a bang. I've closed this chapter of my book. I feel complete now.''

LSU became the first home team to win the men's title since Oregon in 1984, and the South Carolina women won the school's first NCAA team championship of any kind. Tennessee sophomore Justin Gatlin became was the first man in 45 years to repeat as 100 and 200 champion, but an injury to teammate Leonard Scott spoiled the Volunteers' bid to defend their team title.

LSU, getting a victory from Claston Bernard in the decathlon, entered the final event, the 1,600 relay, with a five-point lead over Tennessee.

LSU was third in the relay to finish with 64 points, the Tigers' fourth outdoor men's championship and first since 1990. Tennessee, fifth in the relay, had 57 points. SMU was third with 42. South Carolina won the men's relay.

Bernard hurt his hip warming up for the 110 hurdles at the start of Saturday's competition, but said he fought through the pain.

''It locked on me real bad and just got progressively worse,'' he said. ''By the time I got to the vault I could feel it every time I tried to push. But I was not going to come this close this time and let go.''

After Gatlin ran a leg of the relay, he could hardly walk.

''I'm hurting, but I still feel good,'' he said. ''Second is better than third. We came out and put our heart on the line. Everybody put their soul out there and showed everything we've got.''

In meet's final event, the South Carolina women, with freshman Lashinda Demus running the anchor, won the 1,600 relay in a collegiate record 3:26.46. South Carolina led UCLA by seven points entering that race.

The South Carolina women finished with 82 points. UCLA had 72, and defending champion Southern California was third with 57.

Since winning the first two women's titles in 1982 and '83, UCLA has finished second eight times, including four of the last five years.

''This kind of recognition helps out our university. It helps out our athletic department. It helps Lou Holtz and our football team,'' South Carolina coach Curtis Frye said. ''We've got a baseball team that's getting ready to go to the regionals. South Carolina, under the leadership of (athletic director) Mike McGee, is in the game to play for real.''

Scott, counted on for big points in the 100 and 200, did not race after straining his right hamstring in the 100 semifinals Friday night. Trainers worked on him right up the start of the race, then coach Bill Webb decided Scott shouldn't run.

''We had a great effort, but we definitely took a hit with Leonard getting hurt, no doubt about it,'' Webb said. ''He wanted to run. He definitely wanted to run, but he's got a pulled hamstring.''

In the women's 100, Williams burst out of the blocks fast, as usual, and led all the way to win in 11.29 seconds, just ahead of teammate Natasha Mayers, who was second at 11.30.

''I had a lot riding on this race, and I'm so glad it's over,'' she said. ''That's such a big load off of me since I crossed that line. That was by a hair. I barely made it out of that. I had to lean, and I've never had to lean before.''

The only other women to win four championships in one event were Suzy Favor of Wisconsin in the 1,500 in 1987-90 and Seilala Sua of UCLA in the discus from 1997-00.

Mayers, who had beaten Williams in the first round and semifinals, won the 200 in 22.93. Mayers became eligible for Southern Cal in late May, when she completed academic requirements following her transfer from Los Angeles Southwest Junior College. She qualified for the NCAAs in a last-chance meet.

The UCLA women's team title hopes took a major hit when Monique Henderson, one of the favorites, struggled to a seventh-place finish in the 400.

South Carolina, meanwhile, piled up 19 points in the race when teammates Melisa Barber, Leshinda Demus and Demtria Washington finished second, third and fourth. Allison Beckford of Rice won in 51.57 seconds. South Carolina got two victories in the meet, Demus in the 400 hurdles and the 400 relay team. But depth won it for them.

Janus Robberts of SMU won his third shot put title at 70 feet, 10 1/2 inches. The South African also won the discus this week.

Gary Kikaya gave the Tennessee men their first victory of the meet by winning the 400 in 44.53 seconds. Rickey Harris of Florida, the 400 hurdles champion, was second in 44.93.

Ron Bramlett of Alabama repeated as champion in the 110 hurdles, coming on at the finish to edge Todd Matthews of Clemson. Bramlett, who won has won all eight of his final races this season, won in 13.49 seconds. Matthews finished at 13.53.

Perdita Felicien of Illinois, the NCAA indoor champion in the 60 hurdles, won the 100 hurdles in 12.91 seconds. Danielle Carruthers of Indiana led most of the race but hit the last three hurdles and fell after knocking down the final one.

The UCLA women got two victories, giving them a school record five this week. Lena Nilsson won the 1,500 and Jessica Cosby was the surprise winner in the women's shot put.

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