Three-way ties are a rare occurrence in a sport of inches and seconds, but the No. 21 UCLA men’s track and field team found itself in one this weekend at the Pac-10 Championships in Arizona.
The Bruins tied for third with Arizona State and USC, as No. 20 Oregon took first overall and No. 10 Arizona finished second.
Leading the way for the Bruins were two veterans: senior distance runner Cory Primm and redshirt senior pole vaulter Greg Woepse. Both athletes won their respective events and secured individual conference championships by the conclusion of the two-day event on Saturday.
Freshman All-American thrower Alec Faldermeyer also stepped up again for the Bruins in the hammer throw, breaking the UCLA freshman record with a new lifetime-best mark of 223 feet, 9 inches to finish second in the event. His mark on Saturday is in the top 10 in the NCAA.
Primm took the 800 meters title, while Woepse reaffirmed that he is one of the best vaulters on the West Coast, overcoming gusting crosswinds and Washington’s senior superstar Scott Roth, the winner of the pole vault at the 2010 NCAA Indoor Championships.
“The conditions were tougher than we expected,” Woepse said. “The winds were inconsistent, and it actually threw everybody off pretty bad in warm-ups, but as the competition progressed the sun went down, and the wind died a little bit, and we went from there.”
The 800m was tightly contested as well, and according to coach Mike Maynard, it was Primm’s athleticism and execution of the race plan that gave him the edge to win the first conference title of his career. Rather than spend his energy early in the race to get to the front of the pack, Primm let his opponents wear themselves out and surged past Oregon’s sophomore Elijah Greer down the stretch to win by a margin of .13 seconds.
“I always tend to lead, and I think everyone in the race was expecting me to lead, and I started almost in last place,” Primm said. “With 200 (meters) to go, I had more energy, and I was able to go by Elijah. It’s better to be able to finish than be working for everybody in this particular race.”
“In a championship like this, the key is to win, and (Primm) set it up perfectly to be in position to kick at the end and win,” Maynard added.
As for the collective results, the Bruins might not have taken first place, but the hunger is something for the team to build upon, according to Maynard.
“I think everybody was a little disappointed that we weren’t able to beat Oregon for the championship. With that being said, I’m really proud of the team,” he said. “The culture and the expectation to win are very strong on this team now. We came in as a legitimate contender for this championship, and everybody worked hard to win, but sometimes things don’t roll your way. We’re not pleased with the result, but we’re certainly not unhappy with ourselves.”