Saturday, June 23

Track and field use Fresno meet to prepare for MPSF championships

Patrick Douglas knew he was working toward something important Tuesday afternoon when he finished doing a 4-mile tempo run with his UCLA track teammates.

4:15 – those two numbers represent the junior distance runner’s qualifying time for the 1-mile race at the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships.

“Practices have been really good. … We had one of the best workouts of the year and some (of the best) in the past weeks of my running career,” Douglas said. “Everybody will be pacing me while we run the mile, like (junior) Jacob Wood, (redshirt senior) David McDonald and (senior) Alec Govi.”

That qualifying time is what Douglas and his fellow Bruins are working toward when they are competing at the Run for the Dream Invitational in Fresno, Calif. Sunday.

“Everyone’s ready to go, the confidence is high, we plan to use Fresno as the springboard for MPSF,” said distance coach Forest Braden.

The venue at Fresno presents an unfamiliar obstacle for the Bruins because of its indoor 140-meter setting as opposed to the springtime norm of 400 meters.

“It’s not the same atmosphere that we are familiar with, so that means we have to change our tactic a bit and be more aggressive,” said junior middle distance runner Tiffany LaMar. “We’re using the meet to see where we are and if we qualify for MPSF, the peak of the indoor season, because that’s what we are aiming for.”

Despite the challenge, McDonald believes that Fresno will provide his teammates the push they need to reach that goal.

“We’re going to see who’s going to have the fastest time, and that will be good for Patrick, meaning it’ll be his qualifying time for MPSF,” McDonald said.

Not only does the Fresno meet offer the Bruins an opportunity to qualify for the MPSF championship, but also the competition gives the younger athletes like sophomores Wally Rodriguez and Laijon White an opportunity for more experience and confidence in races.

“When I first coached here (at UCLA), there were some seniors and juniors who had freshman mentality, worried about not performing well,” said middle distance coach Johnny Gray. “Now we have kids who are excited, and it’s good that I can work with them from the start and make them stronger.”

The Bruin coaches said that competing in Fresno for McDonald and the rest of the athletes will be similar to a hard workout back at the UCLA track.

“It’s intense because the track is compact and more fast-paced, but we’ll take care of business, take the flight and go home, ready for MPSF,” McDonald said.

Email Quach at [email protected].

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