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Track and field trumps USC in dual meet

Tatum Souza had a strong day in the dual meet against USC, coming in first in the javelin throw.

Tatum Souza had a strong day in the dual meet against USC, coming in first in the javelin throw. Blaine Ohigashi / Daily Bruin

Saturday was the first time any member of the UCLA women’s track and field team tasted victory against USC. And for the first time since 2006, they were able to join the men’s team in a combined victory lap to celebrate both teams’ victories against their USC counterparts in the dual meet.

Although the No. 9 USC men’s team was ranked higher, the No. 13 UCLA men’s team was able to steal an 85-78 point win over its crosstown rivals on Saturday in USC’s Loker Stadium.

Redshirt junior thrower Julian Wruck continued to dominate the discus scene, throwing for a distance of 214 feet, 3 inches, a new UCLA-USC dual meet record.

Junior jumper Michael Perry, who had to work his way back on the team this year after he was cut last season, repaid the team’s faith in him by jumping for a lifetime-best of 24-6 1/4 in the long jump, to win an event that included competition from USC wide receiver Marqise Lee.

A bulk of the men’s team’s points came from the distance events, as the Bruins were able to dominate the Trojans in the 5,000 meters, 3,000-meter steeplechase and 1,500 meters to secure all 27 points that were up for grabs.

“Our team is a very balanced team, we have great sprinters, throwers, jumpers, distance runners, and USC is very sprint heavy. … They might out point us in those few events, but overall, jumps, throws, distance, we had a good opportunity to show the world what a balanced team can do in a meet like this,” said coach Mike Maynard.

Prior to this year’s meet, the Bruin women’s team held a 21–8 record over the Women of Troy. Despite their better record, the Bruins have experienced a disappointing run in recent years, losing to the Women of Troy in their previous five encounters. But after UCLA came up with a 90–73 win, the USC’s win streak has finally been put to rest.

“It was definitely time. I knew when I came here to UCLA that we were on a little bit of a losing streak and I was going to do my part. I think everyone who has come on the team knew they were going to do their part to change that, and this is definitely the year, and you can just feel it in the air,” said junior heptathlete Tatum Souza.

Souza led the women’s javelin event with a throw of 126-9. Redshirt sophomore heptathlete Kimmie Conner came in second, while junior thrower Victoria Breidenthal finished third to complete the sweep for UCLA.

“Obviously we always want to beat ’SC, and the great part about javelin was we swept it. … Two of my best friends were second and third and I think that just everyone really stepped up and those were crucial points for us in the overall win,” Souza said.

The women’s team had another sweep in the pole vault event, clinching all nine points on offer. Senior pole vaulter Allison Koressel cleared a height of 13-1/4 for first place, while junior pole vaulters Courtney Reginato and Natasha Kolbo came in second and third, respectively.

For Koressel and the other seniors on the team, this victory over USC has been a long time coming.

“Beating USC finally, it means so much to all the seniors. I know we’ve all been through three years where we had to just have a loss and not be able to pull through, and so finally having a team where we can be better than them and know it and have the team camaraderie and everyone doing their best, it was just an amazing experience,” Koressel said.

The biggest individual performance in the meet came from senior hurdler Turquoise Thompson, whose efforts in the meet earned first place finishes in the 400 meters and 400-meter hurdles. Thompson’s time of 52.31 seconds in the 400m was a lifetime-best, and improves her NCAA ranking in the event to third in the country.

Souza credited the team’s crucial win over USC to the mutual support and chemistry between the members of the team. With the Pac-12 championships approaching soon in early May, the team couldn’t have picked a better time to have all its pieces fall into place.

“I just think that the team is really coming together as a group and all supporting each other and everyone is doing their part. We just have such a strong connection and friendship throughout the whole team. That really helps,” Souza said.

“Everyone was basically competing for the person in that Bruin uniform next to them, so I guess it was amazing.”

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