There was only one thing on the collective mind of the UCLA men’s track and field team this past weekend ““ the NCAA Indoor Championships.
The men of UCLA were at several events across the country known as last-chance qualifiers. These NCAA-sanctioned events provide athletes one final opportunity to post a top mark and qualify for the national championships.
Unfortunately for the Bruins, last call came and went without anymore automatic or provisional qualifiers.
The distance runners were at Notre Dame for the Alex Wilson Invitational, the throwers competed at the Virginia Tech Final Qualifier in Blacksburg, Va. and the pole vaulters headed back to Seattle for the UW Last Chance Qualifier.
Senior middle distance runner Cory Primm, freshman weight thrower Alec Faldermeyer and senior jumper Jonathan Clark had already qualified for nationals before Friday and Saturday, and this weekend was an opportunity to improve their marks.
“I’m not too happy with my performance, to be honest,” said Faldermeyer, who finished fourth in the weight toss with a throw of 65 feet, 3.14 inches. “I hurt my shoulder a few weeks back, and I’ve just been working back.”
Now, Faldermeyer’s focus is on nationals.
“I’ve just got to get back in technique and back into competition mode. … I’m looking to be an All-American,” he said.
Others with high marks, such as the distance medley relay team and redshirt senior pole vaulter Greg Woepse, had hoped to get invites to nationals but will not. The relay team posted a season-best time of 9:34.78, shaving more than four seconds from its previous best, but actually fell in the national rankings.
One of the highlights of the weekend in Notre Dame was the running of redshirt senior distance runner Scott Crawford, who ran the 800 meters as well as the 1,600m anchor leg of the distance medley relay team.
“Scott Crawford ran a really great time ““ just an overall great performance,” coach Mike Maynard said. “It’s a stacked field this year, so he won’t make it in, which is unfortunate.”
In both events, Crawford ran personal lifetime bests, with a 1:48.74 in the 800m, good for No. 22 nationally, and a 4:01.07 in the 1,600m.
For a team that won the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation the past two years, team-wide success for UCLA has been hard to come by.
There have been stellar individual performances, but the team as a whole has struggled to deliver on the promise of its talent.
“We are not really a very deep team right now,” assistant coach Johnny Gray said. “Track and field is a sport of patience, and it takes time to build an athlete to where we want. But we’ll get there.”