It takes a considerable amount of diligence for a track athlete to master one event, let alone 10. And in their final chance to compete in the regular season, the Bruins’ multi-event athletes had to push themselves even harder this weekend, when UCLA sent five athletes to commence the first Pac-12 Track & Field Championships.
The men took the crown earning 15 points for the team, placing first against Oregon, Arizona State and Colorado. The women’s team will enter the competition next week with four points. “The best thing overall was that the decathlon team gave our team a head start going into the regular meet next weekend,” coach Mike Maynard said.
Sophomore decathlete Marcus Nilsson, who ended the first day in second place, posting lifetime-bests in the shot put and high jump, came back strong on Sunday.
The Swedish sophomore took the lead with a huge throw in the discus and a lifetime-best in the hurdle race but did not excel in the final events. He ended the weekend with a lifetime-best mark of 7539 points, ranking No. 6 all-time in UCLA. “I think I could have done better on the last four events, especially the pole vault,” Nilsson said.
After all 10 events, junior Dominic Giovannoni ended the weekend scoring four points for the team, shooting from ninth place after Saturday’s competition to fifth place. “It was not quite what I was hoping for. I had a pretty rough first day, but it’s good to bounce back,” Giovannoni said.
“The decathlon is a tough event because it relies on 10 different events in order to score,” Maynard said, and although senior Trent Perez won first place in the 1500-meter run, he was unable to put together enough points to reach his best performance, ending with ninth place, while senior David Thomas earned sixth place.
In the heptathlon, sophomore Tatum Souza brought home four points for the team as she finished fifth. She ran a lifetime-best in the 100m hurdles, 200m and 800m dash, also reaching a season-best in the shot put.
Meanwhile on Saturday, UCLA sent a small squad to Eagle Rock to compete in the Occidental Invitational where even more Bruin athletes posted lifetime- and season-best marks.
The team will have more opportunities to score next week when the Pac-12 Championships continue with the running and field events.