Saturday, February 24

Track and field has strong opening weekend, individual success


Jessie Maduka now holds the top spot on the UCLA all-time top ten list for indoor triple jump. The junior landed a jump of 45 feet 1 inch on Saturday at the Bruins the first meet of the 2018, the Dr. Martin Luther King invitational. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)

Jessie Maduka now holds the top spot on the UCLA all-time top ten list for indoor triple jump. The junior landed a jump of 45 feet 1 inch on Saturday at the Bruins the first meet of the 2018, the Dr. Martin Luther King invitational. (Aubrey Yeo/Daily Bruin senior staff)


The UCLA track and field team began the indoor season this weekend at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Invitational, a meet where no team scoring took place.

That did not stop many Bruins from making the most of their first impression in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Competing against a diverse field of teams that included rival USC, five UCLA athletes won their events, with some etching their name into the school’s all-time record book in the process.

The most historic performance came in the women’s triple jump, where senior Jessie Maduka set an indoor UCLA record with a mark of 45 feet 1 inch.

Maduka, who only began competing in the triple jump last year, thought her jump was subpar at first.

“My approach was completely messed up, and I didn’t run full speed,” Maduka said. “The jump felt super easy, which I thought meant it was only an okay jump. But I guess whenever you do it right, it feels easier.”

With the record broken, Maduka said her new goal is to push for an even higher mark and finish in the top five at nationals.

Elsewhere in the field, sophomore Isaiah Holmes won the men’s high jump among collegiate competitors with a height of 6 feet 7.5 inches, while sophomore Mikella Lefebvre-Oatis came in second in the women’s competition.

“It was not so much the height that I was looking for,” Holmes said. “Mostly, I was just excited about beating USC.”

Another UCLA victory came in the women’s pole vault, where senior Elleyse Garrett cleared 13 feet 4.25 inches to win the competition.

Meanwhile, it was a historic opening weekend for UCLA throwers.

Sophomore Nate Esparza set a new personal-best mark of 63 feet 11.5 inches to win the men’s shot put, placing him sixth in school indoor history. Junior Ashlie Blake moved up to eighth in school history with a mark of 55 feet 1.5 inches.

The weight throw competition also saw a pair of Bruins enter the UCLA record book.

Junior Justin Stafford won the men’s competition with a mark of 63 feet 4.25 inches that placed him seventh all-time, and freshman Alyssa Wilson entered ninth all-time on the women’s list with a mark of 59 feet 01.25 inches in her collegiate debut.

“The throws are looking fantastic,” Holmes said. “I wouldn’t be surprised if they qualified for nationals, right off the bat.”

On the track, sophomore Logen Casavant took third place in the men’s 400-meter with a time of 47.81, besting his previous indoor record by almost two seconds.

“I didn’t come in with any goals, given that it was the first meet,” Casavant said. “But it’s still the season opener, so you want to set a benchmark for yourself, so that you have something to work off of.”

Freshman Jacquelyn Hill debuted with a fourth-place finish in the women’s 800-meter, clocking in at 2:14.7. On the men’s side, redshirt sophomore Millen Trujillo set a new personal record with a time of 1:56.81.

Sophomore Carter Blunt came in second in the men’s mile with a time of 4:13.49. Freshman Christina Rice took seventh overall for the women at 5:04.78.

In the women’s 60-meter dash, senior Ashley Lewis finished sixth overall, setting a new personal record of 7.61 seconds. Following his high jump victory, Holmes ran the 60-meter for the first time in his career, clocking in at 6.99 and finishing seventh in his heat.

“I got out of the blocks pretty fast, but then I forgot I was in a race,” Holmes said of his sprint performance. “It’s hard to think of myself as being competitive in that. But I wouldn’t mind continuing with it. It’s definitely fun to do, and lets me get away from the jumps a little bit.”

Although there was no definitive team score at the end, Casavant saw the meet as a promising start because of the individual performances.

“I feel like our team is coming together really well,” Casavant said. “We’re a solid team now, and we’re only going to get better in the coming weeks and months.”

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