The Bruins couldn’t stave off the competition.
UCLA track and field sent six athletes to compete in the distance medley relay and pole vault at the Last Chance College Elite Meet on Friday in Seattle. The DMR crew fell out of the qualifying top 12 and the pole vaulters failed to notch top-16 qualifying marks for the NCAA Indoor Championships.
“We were hoping to qualify for nationals,” said senior Cameron Stone. “But it was a season’s best, so we can’t be too down on ourselves.”
The DMR consisted of Stone, juniors Carter Blunt and Riley Kelly, and redshirt junior Arturo Sotomayor, and finished fourth with a time of 9 minutes, 34.63 seconds – the Bruins’ best time in the event since 2016.
The DMR crew trimmed ten seconds off their prior time, set at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge in New York on Jan 25.
“Overall it was a great performance from all of us,” Sotomayor said. “We put ourselves in it as much as we could.”
Sotomayor opened with the 1200-meter leg and Blunt was the anchor in the 1600-meter leg in the DMR at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge, but the two switched roles on Friday.
The change resulted in a personal-best four-minute flat mile for Sotomayor, which he said was a result of confidence gained from his 4:06.36 mile at the Husky Classic on Feb 8.
“Personally, I wanted to give it my best effort,” Sotomayor said. “I honestly didn’t expect to (run a four-minute mile) but it felt very smooth. I did come off a pretty good race at (the Husky Classic) which helped propel me to a strong finish (Friday) night.”
Sophomore Tate Curran and redshirt senior Elleyse Garrett of the pole vaulting squad entered the meet looking to improve on their 21st and 22nd rankings a week ago.
Curran and Garrett failed to gain any traction in the top 16, but they will have another opportunity at Friday’s MPSF Indoor Championships to join qualifying pole vaulter freshman Sondre Guttormsen at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Despite this week’s finishes, both the men’s and women’s squads cracked the top 25 of the latest NCAA Division I Indoor Track and Field National Rating Index, placing 23rd and 25th, respectively.
“The national poll (is a result of) of the weekend we had (at the Don Kirby Invitational and Husky Classic),” said distance coach Devin Elizondo. “It feels really good to get that (national) support.”