When searching for an acceptable definition of “home-field advantage” in sports, one that comes to mind is: an athletic competition phenomenon that is psychological in nature and benefits the home team.

Hoping to capitalize on its own home-field advantage this week is the UCLA women’s track and field team. The Bruins will compete in front of their own home crowd at Drake Stadium starting today as they participate in the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational.

Among the athletes who will compete in only one event in the invitational is junior Ashlea McLaughlin. McLaughlin has been on a roll as of late, earning back-to-back first-place finishes in the 800 meters in her last two competitions. But this week, in an attempt to figure out which event will best suit her for the season, McLaughlin will find herself competing only in the 400m.

Another Bruin competing this week who has been red hot, winning in back-to-back weeks, is senior pole vaulter Tori Pena. Pena cleared 12-11.50 her last time out.

Making her season debut for the Bruins in the heptathlon will be sophomore Ryann Krais.

After not competing last week in San Luis Obispo, junior distance runner Shannon Murakami will return to action and compete in either the 5k or the 1 mile race.

Coach Bolden described how the familiar confines of Drake Stadium will impact her team’s performance.

“It gives them an edge “¦ just the fact that they don’t have to travel and get to sleep in their own bed helps. “¦ They’re eager to compete at home this weekend,” Bolden said.

Being so close to home should come as a comfort for a team that has been practicing double days since spring break and ought to provide a relaxing atmosphere.

The coaching staff has made the team aware that this invitational is a big one for them and that the time for prepping and training is coming to an end. Up until now, the focus for the team has been on getting work in for the season, but now there seems to be a new winning emphasis emerging.

“We need to start to put our best foot forward,” Bolden said.