At this time last year, Dawn Sowell was out of school and living in Austin, Texas, just starting to pick up her track training after having given away her uniform and spikes and dropping out of the sport the previous fall. And Austin was just another stop in her across-the-country trek during her high school and collegiate careers _ high schools in Pennsylvania and Virgina, an Oklahoma junior college, and a season at the University of Texas and her "off" season before eventually joining on at Lousiana State University. The senior LSU transfer sprinter _ her name fittingly pronounced So-WELL _ logged another record-setting sprint at the 1989 NCAA Track and Field Outdoor Championships at BYU, leading the Lady Tigers to their third consecutive NCAA women's title. Sowell set collegiate, NCAA championship meet and BYU stadium records in the 100-meter dash Saturday with a blistering 10.78 seconds _ not only breaking her previous collegiate-best time of 10.93 set early this spring but also becoming the third-fastest woman in the 100. Only Florence Griffith-Joyner (a world-record 10.49 seconds) and Evelyn Ashford (10.76) have run faster 100s.
The record performance was a repeat for Sowell from Friday's 200 _ a 22.04 good for collegiate, NCAA meet and stadium marks. Plus, she ran a screaming second leg of LSU's 4x100 relay Friday night _ a 42.50-seconds time to share in another threesome of new marks.
Similar to her 200 self-reviews the day before, Sowell first criticized her 100 run _ "everything was dumpy . . . nothing was explosive . . . I was just flat."
But then she took the three performances and collegiate records in stride. "I accomplished everything I wanted to today. Nothing was perfect, but you've still got positive results. But I'm never satisfied."
Some half-dozen years ago, Sowell was running some of the fastest sprints in history. At Northeastern Oklahoma JC, she was racking up NJCAA titles and a 100-meter record, too. But her year at Texas was relatively uneventful and, after being inspired by the early 1988 exploits of another top-notch sprinter by the nickname of FloJo, Sowell returned to track in time to make it first to the 1988 Olympic Trials semifinals and then to her spectacular 1989 season at LSU.
With her help, the Lady Tiger team amassed 86 points _ some challenges notwithstanding. First, there was the still-ongoing controversy over the departure/firing of assistant coach Loren Seagrave, and then LSU returned only seven letter-winners from its 1988 championship team.
Trailing the Lady Tigers in the team standings and rounding out the top five were UCLA (47), Nebraksa (37), Texas Southern (34) and Arizona (25).
In addition to Sowell's effort Saturday, teammate Esther Jones finished second in the 100 (11.12 seconds) , while LSU's tandem of Tananjalyn Stanley and Cinnamon Sheffield were 1-2 in the 100-meter hurdles with respective times of 12.70 and 12.95 seconds. Just .09 seconds shy of the collegiate record, Stanley's time was still good for NCAA national meet and stadium marks, while the latter tied an American Junior National record for the LSU freshman.
Along with Sowell, one of the few double-event winners was Arizona's Carla Garrett, who followed a first-place finish Friday in the discus with Saturday's winning throw of 54 feet 8 inches in the shot put. She becomes the second woman in the NCAA to win both both events in the same championship meet _ the other being Meg Ritchie, her coach.
Wisconsin's Suzanne Favor won her third consecutive NCAA outdoor title in the 1,500 with a stadium-best time of 4:15.83. Favor and 3,000 champion Vicki Huber of Villanova had dueled in the mile at the indoor nationals, but both ran _ and won _ separate races here. "I enjoy the competition that pushes you," said Favor. "But in a way, this takes a lot of pressure off both of us."
In the final event of the evening, Texas won the 4x400 relay, with anchor Carlette Guidry moved into second on the final turn and then passing a faltering Dyan Webber of Texas Southern who was faltering short of the finish line. Texas earned its relay title with a time of 3:31.18.
After finishing as the 3,000-meters runner-up the night before, Valerie McGovern of Kentucky claimed the 5,000 with a time of 16:17.20.