Occasionally in track and field, athletes do not compete against fellow athletes. Instead, they use stopwatches and measuring tape as indicators of how well they do.
On Saturday, however, the No. 24 UCLA men’s track and field team will get to line up against more traditional opponents, as the Bruins go head-to-head against the Tennessee Volunteers at Drake Stadium.
“Invitational meets, we tend to run chasing times,” assistant coach Johnny Gray said. “Dual meets, it’s not about times, it’s about competing.”
The strategy changes subtly, added Gray, because of the short nature of the competition, and the need just to place.
“All we’re trying to accomplish is the top three spots. … If we do that, we can save energy for the next event,” Gray said.
The format of a scored dual meet resembles typical team-against-team competitions.
Instead of the multi-day schedule of invitationals, dual meets take place over several hours on a single day.
Each event is filled with multiple competitors from each team, and points are awarded to the top three finishers in each event. The winner is the team with the most points at the end of the meet.
Coach Mike Maynard said he is excited about the reintroduction of scoring dual meets at Drake Stadium, as well as the restoration of a long-dormant traditional rivalry between UCLA and Tennessee.
This weekend also provides an opportunity to reinvigorate the Bruin fan base, Maynard said.
Over the next few meets, the team will reach out to the Greek community and the student body to build support.
“It’s important for spectatorship, because you can come to a meet and it only lasts a few hours, instead of all day. It’s exciting to see, and there’s a score at the end, and you know who won,” Maynard said.
Both senior distance runner Cory Primm and redshirt senior pole vaulter Greg Woepse are expected to return to competition this weekend after sitting out the meet in Texas last weekend.
Watching his teammates perform strongly against Texas and No. 14 Arkansas was both frustrating and exciting, said Woepse.
The Bruins placed second behind Texas at the tri-meet, but the team posted many lifetime bests and had strong individual performances.
Going forward, Woepse said he expects even better.
“We’re going to dominate,” he said. “And I think we will against Oregon and (USC). What we’ve got going on is special.”