The Bruins avoided the pitfalls of finals week and spring break to put on a strong showing at UCLA’s first home track meet, comprised of the Bob Larsen Distance Carnival and Jim Bush Legends Invitational.
“You could expect more rust, but I’m seeing better marks across the board,” director Avery Anderson said. “As a coach, your job is to try to erase and clean up the negative stuff, and there just isn’t as much as there could have been.”
UCLA won the women’s team score with 170 points, while the men placed fourth with 112 points, behind Minnesota, UC Santa Barbara and Washington State.
During the Bob Larsen Distance Carnival on Friday, UCLA won four events and had top-three finishers in five out of the other six events it entered.
The event winners were headlined by freshman Alyssa Wilson’s 59.16 meter throw in the women’s hammer throw, senior Daniel De La Torre’s 14:06.06 in the men’s 5,000 meter run, freshman Christina Rice’s 34:49.87 in the women’s 10,000 meter run, and junior Robert Brandt’s 29:02.14 in the men’s 10,000 meter run.
After coming off of an Achilles tendon injury that held him out of most of the indoor track season, Brandt is feeling more confident in his body as he returns to action on the track.
“I just clicked into a 29-minute flat pace and held it solid, so it’s a good confidence booster going into the more competitive races,” Brandt said. “Going into (the race), I didn’t have high expectations for myself. I’ve only had four weeks of solid, uninterrupted training, so it was a pleasant surprise.”
At the Jim Bush Legends Invitational on Saturday, the Bruins’ field athletes won five events, while the Bruins collectively had top-three finishers in 11 of the 22 events the team fielded entries in.
The field performances Saturday were headlined by throwers junior Ashlie Blake and Wilson, who finished first and second in the women’s shot put and second and first in the women’s discus throw, respectively.
Also taking home event wins were junior thrower AK Turner’s 59.13 meter throw in the men’s javelin throw, freshman Ilaria Casarotto’s 47.24 meter throw in the women’s javelin throw, and Lillianna Hebert’s 1.72 meter jump in the women’s high jump. Senior Jelvon Butler also finished second in both the women’s 100 and 200 meter dashes with times of 11.89 and 24.24 seconds.
Senior Kendall Gustafson, who is coming off of a victory in the heptathlon from last week’s Aztec Invite in San Diego, used the meet as a tuneup for some of her events as she looks ahead to the team’s championship meets.
“I got a big PR (last week) which should be a shoo-in for outdoor nationals, and as of yesterday was top two in the nation,” Gustafson said. “So I’ve decided that in the meantime I’m just going to sharpen up on some of the individual events I want to work on to train through to (the) Pac-12 (championships).”
Gustafson competed in the women’s long jump, 100 meter dash and 100 meter hurdles, where she finished second, eighth and seventh, respectively.
The track and field team will be competing again next week at the Jim Click Multi’s on Wednesday and Thursday in Tucson, Arizona.