The dual meet is a popular format among track and field athletes. It is the antithesis to the large national invitational ““ two schools, two teams and only one winner.
The format makes for exciting competition and enhances the element of team togetherness that is often downplayed in track and field. If one athlete falters in an event, it is up to the other members on the team to make up those points in another event.
The Bruins have had success in the smaller meets this season, placing second in a tri-meet against No. 6 Texas and No. 15 Arkansas on March 25, crushing Tennessee earlier this month and tying No. 20 Oregon about two weeks ago. With Pac-10 and NCAA championships looming, UCLA will look for another quality win against rival USC this weekend.
The hammer throw will take place at Mt. San Antonio College on Saturday, and the rest of the events will be held at Loker Stadium at USC on Sunday. Long distance coach Forest Braden said that although the Bruins have swept the Trojans in distance races in past years, USC’s distance runners might challenge UCLA’s dominance this year.
“Usually it’s a sweep for us in the distance events, but this year they’ve got a guy (in redshirt freshman transfer Adrian Rafiee) who’s trying to break us up, and it might come down to the 5K as well, so we’ve got to be on,” Braden said.
Redshirt senior Alex Crabill is a key member of the distance corps and has extensive experience competing against USC.
“We’ve been able to sweep the steeple and the 5K as long as I can remember, but we’ll have to be on our toes this weekend,” Crabill said. “Once you go over there and get on that track, you feel the heat and the emotion, and you want to do everything you can to help your team win.”
Also competing in the distances for the Bruins is redshirt sophomore David McDonald, who will run in the steeplechase on Sunday.
“USC isn’t known for their distance runners, and we’ve got a strong steeple crew,” McDonald said. “They’ve only got one guy (in Rafiee) that’s run 9:16, so we want to outnumber him and outcompete him.”
“We’re fired up,” Braden added. “In the past years we’ve been there to rally around the team, because the distance races haven’t really been that close, but now it’s going to be a battle, and we’re ready for it.”