During the Pac-12 Championships Saturday, a runner on the UCLA cross country team had an uncommon experience for a sport with no planned physical contact.
UCLA experienced a bit of grit when, during the run, junior Dustin Fay was bumped in the face and drew a bloody nose. The Bruin finished the race, placing 28th with a time of 24 minutes, 17 seconds. The bloodied Fay wasn’t alone at the finish line. Junior Nohe Lema finished with the exact same time as Fay.
The experience that Lema and Fay had of finishing together was something the UCLA coaches and runners were particularly proud of from the past meet. Sophomore Bronte Golick, the top runner for the UCLA women, finishing with a time of 21:08, noted the team’s attitude throughout Saturday’s meet.
“I was happy with how we were able to stick together the whole race,” she said.
Coach Forest Braden was similarly pleased with the team’s performance.
“The women did a great job running as a pack,” Braden said.
The success that Golick experienced was familiar for her. The last time she ran at the course, she also placed first among UCLA women.
Golick wasn’t the only one excited about the chance to run at the course ““ sophomore Lane Werley called it “fun” and “memorable.”
Werley finished with the best performance among the UCLA men, and fifth among all runners with a time of 23:33. Braden was particularly proud of Werley’s performance.
“Lane Werley looked fantastic. It was the best run of his career. It was so good to see him bring it like we know he can and he knows he can,” Braden said.
Werley agreed with his coach’s evaulation, but insisted that he’s not finished with his improvement.
“I always feel I can build upon it,” he said. “I like to mentally prepare for the end of the season because that’s when it gets tough.”
Braden said this meet’s outcomes bodes well for the rest of the season, proving that UCLA can compete in “the best conference meet in the country.”
The team has grown, but strives to improve further for the NCAA West Regional meet that approaches in the coming weeks.
“We did well, but we haven’t all put it together for a great race yet,” Werley said.