UCLA men’s track travels to Texas for West Regional meet


With an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Outdoor Championships, 23 male athletes will compete today through Saturday at the NCAA West Regional meet in Austin, Texas.

Since there are only two regional meets this year, the competition will be more heated in the struggle to land in the top 12 spots for each event. Athletes must place in the top 12 in order to move on to the national meet in Eugene, Ore., held June 9-12.

Coach Mike Maynard recognized the highly demanding nature of the three-day meet, but he felt confident that his team is ready for the challenge.

“A big factor this week is that there is not a large room for error,” Maynard said. “This goes for the Bruins and for the whole field. We just have to compete.”

Junior Cory Primm has perhaps the best chance to qualify for nationals, as he enters the meet as the fastest 800-meter runner in the nation. His time of 1:46.63 from the Oxy Invitational on May 8 still stands as the top 800-meter time in the NCAA this outdoor season. Primm finished fourth at this season’s Pac-10 Championships but has had a week-long rest from racing leading up to the meet in Austin.

Entering this week with the fifth-fastest time in the western region, the 4×100-meter relay team expects to do something special. The squad, consisting of sophomores Jamal Alston and Karlton Rolle, freshman Maxwell Dyce and senior Brandon Smith, won the Pac-10 crown two weeks ago in Berkeley with a time of 39.66 seconds. Maynard has been impressed with the relay team’s performance all year and feels that it has a great shot at moving on to nationals.

Senior Marlon Patterson enters the meet with the 11th fastest 1500-meter time in the western region, so he also boasts a strong chance to qualify for nationals. Patterson’s time of 3:42.19 shows his potential to place well this week.

In the pole vault, redshirt junior Casey DiCesare has an opportunity to qualify for nationals with a current season-best clearance of 17 feet, 5 inches. The height is 11th in the region, leaving him in good position to finish in that top 12.

Athletes will have to compete in multiple races on three consecutive days in order to punch their ticket to nationals. Most will have to compete at least twice, and some will have to race three times. Maynard, however, is confident in his team’s endurance through the rigorous schedule.

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