Each time a UCLA runner came down the home stretch, it sounded like someone cranked up the volume a couple of levels on the sound system.
But it wasn’t the sound system – it was the Bruins’ first home crowd of the season.
UCLA competed at Drake Stadium for the first time this year in dual meets against LSU and Texas Christian University at the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational. With the home crowd behind each Bruin athlete, both the men’s and women’s teams defeated the Horned Frogs and the men also won against the Tigers.
Perhaps the loudest the stadium got this Saturday was for redshirt freshman distance runner Lane Werley, who won the 1,500 meters while setting a new personal record.
“I’m pumping as hard as I can on the last 100 (meters) and I just want to finish and it’s hurting,” Werley said. “So it’s great that there’s a good amount of people here creating a great atmosphere. I’m pumped to be here.”
Joining the collegiate competitors were several unattached Olympic-caliber athletes. The dual meet scores disregarded the results of the professional athletes while assigning points for each school. However, just like the home crowd, the professional runners had a lasting effect on the UCLA competitors.
For sophomore sprinter and long jumper Kylie Price, running against Brittney Reese was quite an eye-opening experience, as both athletes compete in the same events. Reese finished ahead of Price in the 100m, but is more well-known for winning the long jump gold medal in the 2012 Olympics.
“She was an Olympian so it’s really cool and exciting running against her,” Price said. “Professional runners help push you so I just stay with them and go with them, and I’ll get a good time if I do that.”
Price finished second in the long jump and first among collegiate athletes in the 100m. By staying with Reese throughout the sprint, Price set a personal record in the 100m for the first time since her junior year in high school.
Other Bruins posted strong marks this weekend, including junior pole vaulter Mike Woepse. Woepse finished first by clearing 5.35m. Yet after finishing his rounds, Woepse took off his shoes and slammed them together, disappointed for not making the 5.50m cut.
“I competed well and got the win versus the college guys, but I was just a little frustrated,” Woepse said. “If I just could have made 5.50m, it would have been a good day.”
Despite not meeting his own individual expectations, Woepse made it clear that the Bruins have their priorities straight: team first.
“The team win is absolutely more important,” Woepse said. “That’s really what it all boils down to right now, just competing and getting the five points for the team.”