UCLA track and field’s throwers opened the indoor season by recording eight top-four finishes.
Competing Jan. 11 at the NAU Friday Night Duals in Flagstaff, Arizona, the Bruins were led by sophomore Alyssa Wilson. Wilson competed in the women’s shot put and weight throw, events in which she earned First-Team All-American honors in her debut season, and brought home first-place finishes in both events.
Redshirt senior Ashlie Blake was the only other member of the women’s team to compete on Friday, and she finished third in the shot put with a throw of 16.51m.
“My performance in my eyes was very (mixed),” Blake said. “It was very good by some standards because I opened up at about the same distance that I did last year, and this meet is (nine days) earlier than when we opened last year; at the same time though, it’s disappointing because I know there was more there.”
Blake finished the 2018 indoor season with a seventh-place finish at the NCAA Championship in the shot put, which earned her First-Team All-American honors.
“I’m very confident in the throw team going into this season,” Blake said. “We have a good mix of an older group like me, (redshirt senior Dotun Ogundeji) and (senior Justin Stafford) who have all been to the national meets; with (redshirt freshman Jacob Wilson) and (Alyssa Wilson), they bring a new talent into the team and push us upperclassmen to keep up with them because they are so phenomenal.”
Jacob Wilson began his career as a Bruin by recording two personal bests in the men’s shot put and weight throw en route to third and fourth-place finishes, respectively.
“You can never have a perfect first meet, something will always go wrong,” Jacob Wilson said. “It’s just something to build on for me; the marks weren’t amazing but a PR is a PR and I’m looking forward to improving on it every week.”
Assistant coach John Frazier, who is entering his sixth season coaching UCLA’s throwers, said he doesn’t try to pressure his athletes too much with his expectations.
“The athletes will pressure themselves,” Frazier said. “I try to back off on my end so they can really focus on what they need to do in terms of throwing, rather than just hitting a mark.”
Jacob Wilson said Frazier’s coaching style has been conducive to helping the throwing team succeed.
“Coach Frazier is almost like a father figure for most people on the team,” Wilson said. “He’s almost more than a coach; we have fun with him all the time and it’s just really great working with him.”
The Bruins will compete at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational in Albuquerque, New Mexico, from Jan. 18-19.