Five months of intensive running, jumping and throwing will culminate in one weekend for UCLA’s best track and field athletes.
The Bruins have made their way to Eugene, Oregon, to compete in the NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, and for four of them, it will be their last meet ever wearing the UCLA jersey.
One of them hails from John Frazier’s throws team, the coach having recently been named the Western Region Assistant Coach of the Year.
Redshirt senior Nicholas Scarvelis will throw his last shot put and discus flights for Frazier this weekend, while redshirt freshman Dotun Ogundeji will also throw both events. Sophomore Braheme Days will only throw the shot put.
The trio all made the indoor national championships in March, the first time in nearly 20 years every single member of the men’s throws team qualified in the shot put at the national level.
Scarvelis finished as a first-team All-American that indoor season, while Days and Ogundeji were second-team All-Americans. All three of them are seeded in the top eight for the evening’s event however, Scarvelis as first having won the western regional championship, Days as sixth and Ogundeji as eighth.
Soon after the flight, redshirt senior Lane Werley will run his last collegiate 10,000-meter.
Like Scarvelis in the shot put, Werley has qualified for the regional championship meet in the 5,000-meter race in each of his competitive years – his junior year he made it in both that and the 10,000-meter.
He placed 16th at the national championship meet last year in the 5,000-meter while he finished 26th in the 10,000-meter, but this year he’s the No. 11 seed for the latter and holds the 23rd fastest time in the nation.
His distance teammate senior Nick Hartle is the No. 14 seed in his 800-meter, though if the seed times hold and both runners match their personal best from the season – for Werley a 29:07.23 and for Hartle a 1:46.73 – both would garner their first individual first-team All-American honors. Hartle was a member of the All-American record-setting UCLA men’s distance medley relay team that took seventh at the indoor championships.
In the other field events, junior Austin Hazel, sophomore Jessie Maduka and redshirt senior Kylie Price will all compete in the long jump.
Price is the most experienced and has the highest seed out of the three of them. She had the fourth-longest jump from the regional round this year, and she’s a three-time first-team outdoor All-American in that event, having taken third, sixth and seventh in the event her junior, sophomore and freshman years respectively.
When she graduates from the team after this last meet, other athletes like Maduka will get the chance to try and assume the role Price has had as the go-to long jumper.
And as for the women’s sprints team, it’s in a similar position – the team has plenty of rising talent to help ease the loss of graduating stars. Price is the only upperclassman of the 4×100-meter relay team that made the cut for nationals. The other members – Maduka, and freshmen Schuyler Moore and Angie Annelus – are all underclassmen.
Annelus also qualified in the individual 200-meter dash, and though the men’s team will lose seniors too, the only male sprinter who qualified for NCAAs is freshman Rai Benjamin in the 400-meter hurdles.
So, as the five months of competition and even more months of training dial down to one weekend, the four seniors will get the chance to put UCLA on the map while they pass the torch to the freshmen and sophomores running, jumping and throwing alongside them.