It wasn’t first, second and third, but the UCLA track and field heptathletes that competed at the Pac-12 Combined Events Championships at Oregon State still finished sequentially over the weekend.
Sophomore Christina Chenault, junior Kendall Gustafson and senior Monique Van finished in fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, to give the UCLA women 12 points heading into to the main conference championship meet next weekend.
Chenault, UCLA’s top finisher, was in sixth place after Saturday’s events – the 100-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put and the 200-meter dash.
She improved on each of her scores in the events from the only full heptathlon she ran earlier this year at the Mt. SAC Relays except for the high jump, where she finished sixth in the event.
It was Gustafson who had the lead for UCLA, and was in fifth place overall, at the end of Saturday. She tied for first in the high jump and won first overall in the shot put, and paced the Bruins for every event except the 200-meter dash.
Van, like Chenault, also bettered her scores from Mt. SAC for the high jump and the 100-meter hurdles, and was in 10th place after Saturday.
Sunday was a much different story, however.
The senior picked up 37 more points than anyone else in the javelin field to claim first overall, and moved up four places in the field to finish sixth with a lifetime-best 5,144 points.
Gustafson and Chenault switched places. Chenault finished nearly 16 seconds ahead of Gustafson in the final event, the 800-meter, to pick up second place and 842 points.
The two had measurably different performances in all the Sunday events, but the points brought the two to finish with nearly the same scores.
Chenault was eight centimeters short of her season-best long jump score, but tied for third and took 753 points in the event, 62 ahead of Gustafson.
Gustafson, on the other hand, threw 41.08 meters in the javelin throw to get a 124-point edge, and the 203 point difference in Chenault’s favor for the 200-meter brought the final separation to 52 points.
Chenault’s heptathlon was nearly 200 points below her performance at the Mt. SAC Relays despite her improved first day, and her national standing in the event dropped two places to 21st.
The rest of UCLA will compete in the Pac-12 championship next weekend at Oregon, in the first of many postseason track and field tiers.