One of the brightest young stars on the UCLA track and field team has seen his last days as a Bruin.
According to the Medina Gazette, a newspaper based in Medina, Ohio, sophomore multi Steele Wasik will leave UCLA.
Wasik suffered an injury at the NCAA Indoor Championships in March that forced him to withdraw from the competition and hasn’t competed since. A week before, he set the UCLA heptathlon record with a score of 5,783.
While preparing for the indoor championships, Wasik was working through what he thought was just a sprained hamstring before he found out the real results, the Gazette reported. The muscle injury was a side effect of a more pressing stress fracture in his femur.
Wasik couldn’t compete in the outdoor season, which features the decathlon as opposed to the heptathlon. He missed the opportunity to gain more experience in the 10-event spread after he placed 12th at the 2015 national championship meet at the culmination of his freshman season.
In his first decathlon ever just a few months before, he scored 7,521 points – the eighth-best in UCLA history.
If he repeated that score this year, he would have been the 14th seed at nationals. Wasik said in the middle of indoor season he was looking forward to competing at the national level this year, especially because of the competition.
According to Wasik, coaches and athletes had said that this is one of the most competitive fields for the men’s multi events in recent history. He had the ninth-highest heptathlon score in the nation before he withdrew from the national championships, and the second-highest for an underclassman in the country.
Wasik still has two indoor seasons and three outdoor seasons of eligibility while five of the people seeded in front of him at the indoor meet were seniors who will soon graduate. UCLA is losing, essentially, a top-five multi-event finish at nationals with Wasik’s decision to leave.
As to why one of the Bruins’ brightest young stars is leaving, Wasik told the Gazette he wanted to be pushed more and had to think about what kind of training would get him to reach his ultimate goal of becoming a national champion.
He has yet to make up his mind where he will start next fall, the Gazette reported, but he is leaving Westwood.