Against stiff competition from No. 4 Oregon and USC, the No. 24 UCLA track and field team posted a myriad of personal bests this weekend.
At the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships the men’s and women’s teams were able to claim third and fourth overall, respectively. Six Bruins were able to set personal bests, and among them was redshirt sophomore thrower Dotun Ogundeji.
On his final shot put of the weekend Ogundeji came up big with an indoor lifetime best of 64 feet, 11.5 inches, clearing his previous high mark by 2 feet. He won the event by less than 2 inches. Senior thrower Torie Owers posted a mark of 56-0.5 feet in the women’s shot put, winning the event and setting a new indoor personal best in the process.
“I feel almost like it was a dream. I just was not really expecting to win,” Owers said. “I have been having a rough season, and my coach and I really worked to turn it around.”
Her performance on Saturday was her farthest since her personal record in April of last year, Owers said.
Among the runners, there were no first-place finishes despite a season-best time of 3 minutes, 12.50 seconds for the men’s 4×400-meter relay squad, which grabbed fifth, and a personal best in the mile from junior Scott Snow, who placed sixth with a time of 4:04.02.
In the 400-meter dash, junior sprinter Joe Herrera tied his indoor personal record with a time of 46.98 seconds, good enough for fifth. Sophomore Rai Benjamin was immediately behind, clocking in at 47.06.
“Going into the weekend I was hyped about the competition – we got to race against USC,” Herrera said. “In the (400-meter) I felt full strength and I honestly thought I’d win it.”
According to Herrera, the competition from USC and Oregon in the 400-meter proved to be too stiff and the race simply did not turn out the way he intended.
In the 800-meter, sophomore distance runner Arturo Sotomayor took third with a time of 1:50.17 while junior Riley Kelly finished 10th, despite coming in less than two seconds behind Sotomayor with a time of 1:52.11.
“(The 800-meter) was a good race. I gave my all for the day,” Sotomayor said. “We ran the DMR the day before and I split a 4:02.6 for the 1,600, so that tired out my legs a bit.”
Freshman distance runner Cassandra Durgy logged yet another personal record, finishing 15th in the mile with a time of 4:45.15.
Senior distance runner Emily Scharmann took 16th overall in the mile with a time of 4:45.47. Scharmann also posted a personal best of 9:29.38 in the 3,000-meter.
“(The entire team) had a really good MPSF meet overall,” Owers said. “The reality is, we have a lot of talent, and the coaches are really cultivating it well.”