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Seven Bruins qualify for the men’s track and field NCAA Outdoor Championships after top performances in the Western Regional

Redshirt junior Scott Crawford will represent UCLA in the 800 meters at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships from June 9 to June 12 in Eugene, Ore.

Redshirt junior Scott Crawford will represent UCLA in the 800 meters at the 2010 NCAA Outdoor Championships from June 9 to June 12 in Eugene, Ore. Alexa Smahl

After a challenging three days of competition at the Western Regional in Austin, Texas, only three individuals and the 4×100-meter relay team from the UCLA men’s track team will be extending their season at the upcoming NCAA Outdoor Championships.

On Friday, three Bruins earned spots into the NCAA Outdoor Championships, all with automatic berths.

Junior Cory Primm and redshirt junior Scott Crawford both landed in the top 12 in the 800 meters. Primm finished second in his heat with a time of 1:47.03, while Crawford finished fifth in the same heat with a time of 1:47.78, a new personal best.

It was the right time for Crawford to deliver a breakthrough race, as his performance gave him the 12th and final qualifying bid for the NCAA Outdoor Championships. This will be Crawford’s first time competing at the championships.

The national meet will be nothing new for Primm, as it is his third consecutive trip in as many years at UCLA.

Coach Mike Maynard said he was very impressed by Crawford’s late-season performance.

“Scott (Crawford) has been doing a fantastic job lately, and he has been really coming on strong at the right time in the season,” Maynard said. “(Middle distance) coach (Johnny) Gray has been saying Scott’s performance level should rise and that he should be a potential scorer at the NCAA championships.”

Junior Dylan Knight qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in the steeplechase, in which he finished third in his heat with a time of 8:47.37. Knight’s time was the seventh fastest of the day and qualified rather comfortably ““ considering the top 12 finishers qualified.

“Dylan (Knight) runs smart and does what it takes to move through, so he has an opportunity to score at the NCAA championships,” Maynard said.

On Saturday, the 4×100-meter relay team showcased its talent, as it automatically qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships in impressive style.

The team, made up of sophomore Jamal Alston, sophomore Karlton Rolle, freshman Maxwell Dyce and senior Brandon Smith, finished first in its heat and second overall with a season-best time of 39.43 seconds. Smith charged through the last leg of the relay to edge out Baylor University.

The team’s mark is tied for the 12th best performance in the NCAA this season, and it is also the fastest time run by a UCLA relay squad since 1998.

Maynard said he felt that Smith ran a phenomenal anchor leg, but he was especially impressed by the maturity shown by Dyce during the second baton exchange. Near the end of the second leg of the race, Rolle began to cramp up but continued to push until the exchange. Maynard said that Dyce, though just a freshman, observed Rolle’s discomfort and adjusted the exchange time to ensure that a safe pass was made.

“I believe that these guys can race with anybody, and they have shown this the whole year. The team does a great job every time they race,” Maynard said.

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