UCLA track and field didn’t send very many athletes to Texas, but the team made sure to send its best.
Despite facing some of the fiercest competition in the country, the Bruins had 13 top-three finishes and posted many personal records at the Charlie Thomas Invitational in College Station, Texas, last weekend.
Shot-putters placed a stamp on the meet by finishing first and second in their events. Sophomore Dotun Ogundeji produced a throw of 60 feet, 4 inches to place first in the men’s shot put, and junior Braheme Days followed suit with a throw of 59-0.
Women’s shot continued on this high trajectory, with senior Torie Owers placing second at 51-8.25 and redshirt sophomore Ashlie Blake throwing a 51-7.75 to earn third.
For Blake, it was the first time traveling with a squad this small.
“(Traveling in small groups) definitely affects my mentality before competing,” Blake said. “Coming out of high school you’re used to being the best, and then when college starts, everyone’s the best and everybody’s better than you.”
For her upcoming meet, Blake said she wants to keep a clear mind and have her performance in competition mirror that of her performance in practice.
“Throwing with such an elite group of throwers, which I’ve never done before, is very nerve-wracking but I’ll get over it eventually,” Blake said. “Once I do that, I’ll be perfectly fine.”
Sprinter sophomore Rai Benjamin also proved to be dominant in his events. He finished first in the 200-meter dash and third in the 400-meter. His personal record of 21.03 seconds gave him the second-fastest 200 time in UCLA indoor history. In addition Benjamin had a PR of 47.11 in the 400 landed him the program’s all-time fifth-best 400.
Sage Stone made his season debut this weekend after five to six months without competing due to a labral tear in his left hip. The senior finished third with a height of 6 feet, 8.25 inches in the men’s high jump.
“I was happy that I got third but it wasn’t my best performance,” Stone said. “I have a lot to work on … need to increase my physical activities, stay up on weight lifting, keep that day-to-day training so that I am prepared and my body is healthy for upcoming meets.”
The Bruins’ next meet is the Don Kirby Invitational, which gets going in Albuquerque, New Mexico, on Friday.
“A lot of our teammates are working well together and improving each other’s performance on a day-to-day basis,” Stone said. “Our team has a lot of potential and we all are looking to go very far in this upcoming season, so it should be a lot of fun.”