Correction: The original version of this article contained an error. UCLA’s distance medley relay team finished third behind Oregon.
It wasn’t just that the UCLA men’s track and field team kept up step for step against what will likely be two of its strongest conference opponents.
The Bruins held their own in enemy territory and also came away with some invaluable experience and a couple of impressive finishes to start the season on a good note at the University of Washington Invitational in Seattle this weekend.
The distance medley relay team finished third out of 13 groups, coming in behind only No. 5 Oregon (9:35.98) and No. 24 Washington (9:39.29), with a time of 9:39.62.
The Ducks pulled away from the pack in the 400 leg, leaving the Huskies and the Bruins in a back-and-forth battle for second place.
In the last 1,600 meters, UCLA senior distance runner Scott Crawford maintained a lead over Washington sophomore James Cameron but lost the advantage as Cameron made a move to pass Crawford with one lap remaining.
Crawford held on during the home stretch to take third place behind Oregon.
“It was a good race for us, but we can definitely go faster next time,” said senior distance runner Cory Primm, who was a part of the team.
“Everyone did what they had to do, and we’re just going to improve on a few little things, and next time we run, we’re going to run like 9:33, probably.”
The time was not good enough to qualify for the NCAA Championships, but the Bruins nevertheless came away with an impressive top-three finish against two of the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation’s strongest programs. Oregon’s foursome was fast enough to win this weekend but couldn’t obtain an automatic qualifier for the NCAAs.
Freshman distance runner Philip MacQuitty was the sole first year in the group for the Bruins but played a key part for the distance medley relay team on Friday.
“(Competing on a college level) is new for me, and it was my first time running indoor with all the guys,” MacQuitty said. “It’s definitely different, and it was good to get the experience.”
Saturday was just as fruitful for the Bruins, who earned their best finish over the weekend in the mile. Primm had a standout performance, placing second overall with a new personal record of 4:02.10, while Crawford ran a time of 4:06.12 to finish in eighth place. MacQuitty came in at 19th place with a run of 4:11.40.
“It was the first race of the season, and it was a lot of the athletes’ first time running indoor,” said assistant coach Forest Braden, who is the long distance coach. “The biggest thing was experience and getting in there and competing and getting back into race mode.”