Huber And Young Feted With Jumbo Elliott Awards

Posted: October 28, 1988

When Vicki Huber made her official recruiting trip to Villanova nearly four years ago, she did not exactly bankrupt the university's athletic budget.

She did not force Villanova women's track and field coach Marty Stern to race to the nearest MAC machine, either. "Vicki came to Villanova for a wedge of pizza and a Diet Coke," Stern mused.

Stern's $2 investment has paid off handsomely for Villanova: Huber, a senior from Wilmington, has won five NCAA indoor and outdoor championships during her collegiate career, and she finished sixth in the women's 3,000

meters last month at the Seoul Olympics.

Without breaking a sweat, Huber yesterday corralled another prestigious honor. She and UCLA hurdler Kevin Young were given the 1988 Jumbo Elliott Awards, which recognize the nation's outstanding collegiate track and field athletes.

The award, presented during a luncheon at Villanova, is named for Elliott, the late Villanova track coach who sent 32 runners to the Olympics during his 47-year coaching career. But this was the first time in the award's four-year history that a Villanova runner was a recipient.

That Huber and Young won this year's Elliott Awards also represented a triumph for those unheralded high school runners who were not sought by

college recruiters as much as, say, Carl Lewis.

As Stern attested, Huber was a relatively inexpensive find. Young was a walk-on from David Starr Jordan High School in Watts, in Los Angeles, who did not earn an athletic scholarship at UCLA until his junior year.

But Young dramatically evolved into a world-class hurdler at UCLA, winning the NCAA championship in the 400-meter hurdles earlier this year in record time. Then Young finished fourth in the 400 final at Seoul - the historic race that hurdling king Edwin Moses lost to Andre Phillips.

"Most walk-on athletes have to work hard to get the coaches' confidence - or some extra confidence," Young said. "I never would have expected anything like this. I remember reading about the Jumbo Elliott Award last year, and when I heard that I won, I was ecstatic."

Young, a 6-foot-4, 176-pound sociology major, also served as UCLA's unofficial track mascot during his college career. "He was our own Tommy Lasorda," said his coach, Steve Lang. "He was cheerleading at everything."

Huber consistently ran away from the pack last year. In a span of less than one hour, she became the first woman to win the NCAA indoor mile and 3,000. She then took the 3,000 title at the NCAA outdoor championships and finished second to Mary Decker Slaney at the Olympic trials.

"Qualifying (for the Olympics) was great," she said yesterday, "but I thought that was as far as it would go. . . . Going into it, until the trials, I thought I'd make it to the trials and run a 'PR' (personal record) - '92 was what I was looking toward."

But Huber ran so respectably - she defeated even Slaney in the 3,000 final at Seoul - that she found herself with a new nickname: The New Mary Slaney. ''Everyone says she's the new Slaney, which we don't like," Stern said. ''She's not the new Slaney. She's the best distance runner in America."

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