For the second time this year, Drake Stadium will be getting some action.
That’s because the UCLA women’s track and field team will host the annual Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner Kersee Invitational at Drake Stadium, held today through Saturday.
The meet is the last time this year that the Bruins will compete on their home turf. Last weekend, UCLA hosted a dual meet against Tennessee, barely dropping the meet by one point to the No. 14 team in the country. So needless to say, the Bruins have high expectations for this weekend.
But this coming event is more than just the last home meet of the season.
The Bruins are hosting this meet in honor of Rafer Johnson and Jackie Joyner Kersee, whose names proudly adorn the title of the meet.
“Not only UCLA student-athletes, but athletes all over really look up to Jackie and Rafer,” coach Jeanette Bolden said. “For us to have them at UCLA and to celebrate their greatness at a whole meet in their honor is just fantastic.”
Johnson won the gold at the Olympic Games of 1960 at Rome in the decathlon, as well as silver in 1956 at the Melbourne Olympics, and was the final torchbearer in the 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles.
Joyner Kersee herself won three Olympic gold medals: in 1988 in the heptathlon and long jump, and again in the heptathlon in 1992. Both are former UCLA athletes.
“It’s not so much about us competing, but it’s about us honoring (Johnson and Joyner Kersee’s) legacy, the legacy that they put forth at UCLA,” Bolden said. “We want to continue that and do the best job that we can because they have really laid down the foundation of greatness of UCLA.”
Redshirt junior jumper and hurdler Ke’Nyia Richardson is also proud to honor Johnson and Joyner Kersee.
“I feel like they really paved the way for a lot of us athletes here at UCLA,” she said. “So being able to really honor them with their own meet at our own home track really means a lot to me.”
Richardson won the triple jump last weekend with a mark of 38 feet, 1.25 inches and also placed second in the long jump.
Some of the collegiate teams competing in the meet include: Azusa Pacific, San Francisco State, Michigan, Cal State Northridge, Loyola Marymount, Hawai’i and the University of Nevada Las Vegas. There will also be some professional athletes competing.
Freshman thrower Ida Storm is looking forward to competing at home in front of friends. Storm currently ranks eighth in the NCAA in only her first year as a Bruin, and she hit a new personal best throwing 204-2 feet during the Tennessee meet to win the competition.
She will have another chance to impress her friends this weekend.
“It is very nice being able to compete in front of my friends,” Storm said. “A lot of my friends don’t even know what hammer is, so they will get to see. And of course it’s important to have support; it always gives you a boost.”