Home. It’s the sort of word that influences decisions, evokes emotion, and leads lives.
While most members of the UCLA men’s track and field team will head to Albuquerque, N.M., for the New Mexico Classic this weekend, two athletes will be making an east-coast swing. Redshirt junior pole vaulters and twin brothers Scott and Casey DiCesare will compete at the New Balance Collegiate Invitational in New York, a scant 18 miles from their hometown of Irvington, N.Y.
The New Balance event is expected to host some of the best track and field athletes in the nation and will be a good early test for the DiCesare brothers.
“It’s really an opportunity to see how (Scott and Casey) stack up against the best,” said assistant coach Anthony Curran, who coaches the jumpers and pole vaulters for both the men’s and women’s teams. “There will probably be 15 guys vaulting over 17 feet at the event, so it will be a good challenge.”
Casey DiCesare’s personal best in the indoor pole vault is 17-7.75, while Scott DiCesare’s personal best sits at 16-6.75.
The DiCesare brothers will be expected to help in recruiting, coach Mike Maynard said. Freshman thrower Alec Faldermeyer, one of the top high school throwers in the country last year, is also from New York.
“We want to give them an opportunity to showcase their opportunity in front of the home crowd,” Maynard said of the DiCesare brothers. “That’s an area we recruit. … There’s talent back there, and you want to show off your talent when you’ve got it.”
The rest of the Bruins’ contingent for this weekend will be competing at the New Mexico Classic. For most on the team, it marks the first competition of the season and provides an opportunity for them to put an offseason’s worth of work on display.
UCLA will send almost a full team to the competition, excepting the middle distance and distance runners, who began their season last week at the University of Washington Invitational in Seattle. Key competitors include redshirt senior pole vaulter Greg Woepse, senior jumper Jonathan Clark and redshirt junior jumper Taylor Hobson and sophomore sprinter Randall Carroll.
Much of the focus this year will be on the younger members of the team, as UCLA added one of the top recruiting classes in the nation this past year, headlined by Faldermeyer, who was the 2010 Nike Indoor national champion in the weight throw.
“This will be (Faldermeyer’s) first competition with the collegiate weight, so we’re interested to see how he does with that,” Maynard said.
With the season just beginning, the Bruins will focus on translating practice to competition. With the push toward NCAA’s not yet in full swing, the early goal is to compete well and get ready.
“We’re hoping they’ll focus on themselves, try and compete against themselves,” volunteer coach of sprints and decathlon Nick Taylor said of the athletes. “If we do that, at the end of the day we’ll post some good scores.”