With the start of April – a pivotal month for the track and field team – UCLA’s squad is going to come home and do some spring cleaning.
After traveling for every meet since December, the Bruins have their first home track meet of the season, and it couldn’t have come at a better time. April marks the beginning of serious preparation for the big meets at the end of the season.
The Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational this weekend pits UCLA, Louisiana State University and Texas Christian University against each other in a scored meet at Drake Stadium, in which points are awarded for first-, second- and third-place finishes in individual events.
Redshirt freshman shot-putter Nicholas Scarvelis understands that this weekend is not just about personal goals. “I think the most important part, seeing how this is a competitive meet against other schools, is a team victory,” Scarvelis said.
“But having said that, I have been throwing pretty well in practice and I would love to get out there and get a round of personal bests.”
Other Bruins share the same level of high personal expectations. Despite finishing the best among collegiate athletes at the Texas Relays, junior hammer-thrower Ida Storm still seeks to improve every year.
“It’s a buildup of course,” Storm said. “We have a lot of meets and I hope to learn how to compete even better and develop in competition.”
The Bruins hope that development will be accelerated on the home track, and that this meet will be the successful starting point for what coach Jack Hoyt called a big month.
“In April, we learn how to compete and just get after it,” Hoyt said. “You back off on training a little bit. You’re trying to make things more quality, so we’re getting them into a bit more competitive mode and a little fresher for meets.”
Players said they are looking forward to competing at Drake Stadium in front of fans and friends, hoping that the enthusiasm can push each competitor even harder.
“It keeps us motivated ‘cause you’re in a competition, not just looking for your own best, but just to beat other people,” Hoyt said. “Sometimes when you’re in a competition and you’re just being aggressive and competitive, it creates a better performance.”
But the Bruins know that they need to remain focused and not get too caught up in the excitement; the meet will be a big measure of how prepared the team is for the rest of the month.
“Everyone is just getting very focused, not saying that we weren’t before,” Scarvelis said. “But there is a sense of immediacy now that everything is getting really close. Everyone is making practice more meaningful, executing just that little bit more.”