Behind the Score
Time junior Patrick Douglas finished with, the best individual finish on the men's side and good for 22nd place overall
Teams the UCLA men's team finished ahead of in the Bronco Invitational on Saturday
Coach Forest Braden called it “probably the biggest meet in the world.”
With more than 300 runners participating in each race, this weekend’s Wisconsin adidas Invitational was quite the sight to see.
Half of the UCLA cross country team competed in Wisconsin, with the other half competing at the smaller Bronco Invitational, hosted by Santa Clara University in Sunnyvale, Calif., but the goal of both meets was the same ““ to have runners qualify for the Pac-12 Championship.
Seven runners from each of the men’s and women’s teams qualified in Wisconsin, and three per team qualified in Sunnyvale.
Sophomore Lane Werley snagged one of those qualifying spots with a time of 23 minutes, 53 seconds, placing him first among UCLA’s men. However, despite Werley’s success, he and Braden were particularly proud of redshirt senior David McDonald.
McDonald ran a 24:14 to place fourth among UCLA’s men.
“David ran a fantastic race. He ran like the senior leader he is,” Braden said.
Werley was equally impressed, adding “He wasn’t all there last year. … He got back into it for his senior year.”
Leading the women’s side was redshirt sophomore Kelsey Smith, who finished first among UCLA women with a time of 20:26.
While Braden called the atmosphere at the Wisconsin Invitational “spectacular,” the Bronco Invitational had a different feel.
Redshirt freshman Jen Owen, who placed first among the women in the Bronco Invitational with a time of 17:55.5, said, “It was really laid back and really fun. … There wasn’t much pressure.”
The lack of pressure worked for Owen, however, as she also qualified for the Pac-12 Championship. Owen said she’s looking forward to competing in Pac-12 because they will be held in Santa Clarita, her hometown.
Despite her first-place finish, Owen said she was most impressed with a show of teamwork on the men’s side.
“Jacob (Wood) and Patrick (Douglas) were great. They were together the whole race, and finished together too. … I’ve never seen that in a 10k,” said Owen.
Douglas, a junior, finished with a time of 24:31.2, barely edging out the redshirt sophomore Wood, who came in at 24:32.3.
As UCLA continues to grow, the prospect of performing at the Pac-12 Championship at its own home field lingers on the horizon, and team members and coaches alike are starting to get their hopes up for a big finish to the season.
“They’re starting to believe,” Braden said. “The sky’s the limit.”