The past week was a big one for Leonard Braxton. The Morgan State athletic director saw progress on the football field, where first-year coach Ricky Diggs' team gave North Carolina A&T; a first-half fit before falling, 26-7.
The situation was even better for Braxton in his role as the Golden Bears' track and field coach. He welcomed one of his best recruiting classes ever after reveling in the exploits of some of his past charges.
Carl Lewis and Mike Powell held center stage at the World Track and Field Championships last week, but Braxton got as much pleasure out of performances by former Morgan State standouts Jack Pierce and Rochelle Stevens in Tokyo. Pierce was a hurdler for the Golden Bears in the early 1980s, and Stevens was one of the NCAA's top quarter-milers in the late '80s.
Pierce lost a photo finish in the 110-meter hurdles to three-time world champion Greg Foster, as both were timed in 13.06 seconds. Pierce became the fifth-fastest ever in the event. Stevens got the U.S. team in the 4X400 relay an early lead with a 50.7-second split, and the women milked it to a second-place finish behind the Soviet Union.
On the recruiting front, the Morgan State men got an infusion of talent from the Bahamas. Troy McIntosh and Sheriff Roberts are sprinters who transferred in from Southern (La.) University, and true freshman Curtis Pride has reached 52 feet in the triple jump. Craig Hepburn, a 26-foot long-jumper, qualified for the world championships, and Braxton is hoping he'll arrive at Morgan State soon.
Maxwell Massoqui and Harold Brown are quality sprinters from the D.C. area, and Braxton also hit it big close to home. The freshman class includes Catonsville's Kareem Lamb, an All-Metro choice of The Evening Sun in the 400 and 800; Carver's Sean Hendrick, a top prospect at 5,000 meters; and Woodlawn's Damon Shoultz, a 6-9 high-jumper who was injured last spring.
Andrea Thomas, who transferred in from San Jacinto (Texas) Junior College, will be available for only one season, but she could fit in the 1992 NCAA picture in either the 400 or 800. Alycia Burnham is a hurdler-jumper out of Oxnard, Calif. Her sister Angela is one of UCLA's best.
* Preseason soccer practice at UMBC included several veterans getting cut by first-year coach Pete Caringi. He has just three seniors, and two of them, Archbishop Curley grads Jason Dieter and Pete Eibner, played for Caringi at Essex Community College. Darius Taylor, the lanky sweeper out of Meade High, is the only veteran with three letters.
Midfielder Rob Karas, a Utah native who spent the last two seasons at Nevada-Las Vegas, will make an immediate impact.
UMBC opens Saturday (2 p.m.) at home against Division II Shepherd, and it's the last breather the Retrievers will have for a while. It's followed by road games at Navy (Sept. 11), Central Connecticut and Brooklyn, before a Sept. 21 home game with William & Mary, which is No. 3 in this week's South Atlantic rankings.
Towson State, the chief obstacle in any designs UMBC has on an ECC title, opens Saturday at home (2 p.m.) against rebuilding Mount St. Mary's. With goalie Rich Pellegrini returning along with three of four backs, the Tigers are favored to take their third straight ECC title.
* The Loyola soccer team opened its season yesterday with a 1-0 loss at George Mason, the 15th-ranked team in the nation. Joseph Addo scored the only goal with 38:06 left in the second half. It doesn't get any easier for the Greyhounds, who play No. 3-ranked Rutgers Saturday (5 p.m.) in the University of Virginia tournament.
* Tricia Muneses, an assistant field hockey and lacrosse coach at Goucher the last two years, is the new field hockey coach at Western Maryland. Earlier, Muneses was a standout player at St. Paul's School for Girls and Skidmore (N.Y.) College. Her head coaching debut comes Saturday at home against Messiah, which finished third in NCAA Division III last year.
Muneses will get help from Kathy Railey, who starred at Loch Raven High and Gettysburg. Towson State has its first full-time assistant in field hockey and lacrosse: Jen Ulehla will work for second-year coach Alison Williams. A recent Maryland graduate, Ulehla played at Maryvale Prep.
* This year's Big Four Classic in women's basketball will be held Nov. 22-23 at the Towson Center, with Coppin State, Loyola and UMBC joining the host Tigers . . . Dick Szlasa, the former lacrosse coach at Towson State and Navy, is back in the area, teaching at Glenelg Country School . . . Tara Vinje-led Loyola opens its volleyball season Saturday at Reitz Arena, playing La Salle at 11 a.m. and Iona at 3 p.m.