Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades, and definitely not in track and field meets between unranked UCLA and No. 5 USC. The Bruin women dropped their fourth dual meet in a row to the Trojans on Sunday, losing 95-68 at Loker Stadium.
Saturday’s competition began with freshman Ida Storm hitting a personal best in the hammer throw, with a mark of 206 feet. Despite winning meets in the past, this personal best wasn’t good enough to clinch first.
“(USC’s Jenny Ozorai) had a good day, I had a good day, and in the end I had a personal record, so I was just like, “˜Fair enough,’” Storm said. “I had a stable series of throws, which I’m happy about, but I feel I can throw further.”
UCLA got off to a strong start on Sunday in the 5,000 meters and the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Senior Shannon Murakami won the 5000m with a time of 17:12.54. Competing for the first time this season in the steeplechase, redshirt senior Kelcie Wiemann finished first with a time of 11:08.93 to lead a UCLA podium sweep.
Senior sprinters Ashlea McLaughlin and Joy Eaton finished first and second place, respectively, in the 400 meters, the final dual meet with their rivals of their careers. McLaughlin had a season-best time of 53.42.
“It’s disappointing to come in as a freshman and leave as a senior and not be able to beat the Trojans,” McLaughlin said. “It was great being able to win two events, but this is the one meet out of every meet where the team means way more to me than individual performance.”
Sophomore hurdler Turquoise Thompson also had a powerful showing. Thompson set a new personal record of 55.88 in the 400-meter hurdles, nearly a second faster than her previous. That time ranks second in all NCAA competitions thus far and sixth all time at UCLA.
Thompson’s day didn’t end with that feat, as she served as the anchor for the winning 4×400-meter relay team.
“Out of everybody today, the individual that stood out this entire meet, UCLA and USC, was Turquoise Thompson,” coach Jeanette Bolden said. “I think leaving this meet, her doing as well as she did was a high for all of us.”
Despite the loss and the margin that accompanied it, the Bruins remain optimistic.
“I am happy because the future just looks so bright. The races that we did well in today are only going to get stronger next year,” Bolden said.
“I’m upset, no bones about that. But, right now, they’ve beaten us four straight years and I’ve beaten (USC) 14 years (as coach), so they’ve still got some work to do.”