For the second time this season, the UCLA men’s track and field team traveled to the same venue to compete as a whole rather than splitting up at different meets ““ fitting preparation for how the team will compete at the upcoming Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championship.
The location of this weekend’s meet carried added significance as well. Boise State played host to the meet, the Bronco Open, but the same track will also be the setting for the upcoming NCAA Indoor Championships.
Two Bruin athletes have already reached automatic qualifying marks for the Indoor Championships, including sophomores Mike Woepse and Alec Faldermeyer. Faldermeyer was not able to compete this weekend because of a minor strain in his hamstring.
Woepse continued to push himself further as the season progressed; the sophomore placed first in the pole vault with a mark of 17-8.50, a lifetime-best.
He attempted 18-2.00, which would have been good for the best mark in the NCAA this season, but was unable to clear it. Coach Mike Maynard has high expectations for Woepse regardless, as the vaulter remains undefeated and currently holds the No. 5 mark for the NCAA in the pole vault.
“That was such a great performance, he’s really looking great at this time in the season,” Maynard said of Woepse.
The men’s sprinters, junior Maxwell Dyce, senior Karlton Rolle and sophomore R.J. Frasier excelled in the 200-meter dash placing second, fourth and fifth, respectively. Dyce had trouble coming off the block as he stumbled forward, but because it was his first competition of the season, sprints coach LaMonte Vaughn expected that some aggressive mistakes would be made.
“We’re going to find out how mentally tough we are,” Vaughn said. “We’re willing to make those mistakes and go after it, and now I can teach them how to race.”
Dyce, Rolle, Frasier and freshman Sean Burd also competed in the 4×400m relay team earning third place with a time of 3:16.84, a season-best for this team.
“We’re building, and we’re still learning how to compete at high levels,” Vaughn said. “We’re learning how to be process-driven, not outcome-driven.”
Freshmen middle distance newcomers Pete Lauderdale and Burd posted season-bests in the 400, finishing fourth and 11th, respectively.
Middle distance coach Johnny Gray stressed the importance of winning races for the team’s less-experienced athletes while preparing them for the long outdoor season still to come.
“With these youngsters, all we are trying to do is teach them to compete,” Gray said. “What I saw yesterday was a lot of heart out of my young runners.”
Sophomore Philip MacQuitty finished eighth in the 800 and seventh in the mile, and redshirt junior Dillon Stucky was the top collegiate finisher in the triple jump with a mark of 49-11, a lifetime-best.
Another highlight of the weekend was Maynard’s announcement of the 2012 signing class. Six athletes ““ Cody Crampton, Jonah Diaz, Nicholas Hartle, Blake Selig, Connor Stark and Justin Unno ““ have signed their letters of intent to compete for UCLA next year.
Next week, the team will compete at two different venues; the Husky Classic in Seattle and the New Mexico Team Invitational in Albuquerque, N.M.