When the UCLA track and field team landed in Seattle on Friday, senior Turquoise Thompson had one thing on her mind.
This would be the last time she would set spike on the track in the two-day UW Invitational.
“It was bittersweet to think that this would be my last (first) meet of the season,” said Thompson, who ran the 800 meter and the 4x400m relay on Saturday. “Coming into the airport, I was thinking that this was also my last season – my last time having the atmosphere being in college and with the team. I’ll miss that.”
For the other athletes, the first meet of the season brings anything but unease: for the upperclassmen, it’s a chance to unwind and measure their offseason efforts and finally compete after the past year’s season.
Coach Mike Maynard said that he trains his athletes to be healthy and ready, always prepared and relaxed for every meet.
“There’s not much pressure on them, especially since it’s the first meet, and the athletes who are not competing on day one will usually be cheering on their teammates,” Maynard said.
“After the first day, we debrief and I tell them to put the first day behind them.”
Thompson and her teammates cheered on the Bruins who competed on Friday, including senior Dominic Giovannoni and junior Marcus Nilsson, who competed in the heptathlon and placed second and fourth, respectively.
Giovannoni made a large jump from his previous personal record from the 2012 season, breaking his lifetime-best score of 5252 with a score of 5540.
Giovannoni attributed his performance not only to his comfort level and his work over the past five months, but also to working with Nilsson.
“He’s a great training partner to work with. He’s a great competitor and has helped me a lot,” Giovannoni said. “In a way, we’re both motivation for each other. I’m trying to reach him, but he’s working to keep me from it. We’re having a competition of our own.”
Overall, the Bruins won four events in the invitational. Pole vaulter Mike Woepse, ranked fourth in the nation, won his event at 5.45m and senior Sarah Toberty came in first in the mile with a time of 4:49.81. Sophomore Kylie Price took first in the 60m with a time of 7.40 and the long jump, with a jump of 6.28m.
The Bruins are heading to the Don Kirby Elite Invitational for another meet Feb. 8 in Albuquerque, N.M.
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