Thursday, April 18

Track and field sets high all-time marks, more personal records in Saturday meet


Sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson climbed to ninth all-time on the NCAA record list with a 70.63-meter toss in the hammer throw. Wilson was the lone athlete in the country to qualify for three individual events at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)

Sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson climbed to ninth all-time on the NCAA record list with a 70.63-meter toss in the hammer throw. Wilson was the lone athlete in the country to qualify for three individual events at the 2018 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. (Andy Bao/Daily Bruin)


While fans were celebrating the legacy of two Bruin legends, two Bruin throwers had a chance to add to theirs.

UCLA track and field honored the two best multi-event athletes in Bruin history at the 17th annual Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational on Saturday. Sophomore Alyssa Wilson climbed to ninth on the NCAA all-time hammer throw list and redshirt senior Dotun Ogundeji notched the fourth-best shot put attempt in UCLA history.

“It was definitely a memorable day,” said throwing coach John Frazier. “(The throwers) needed a weekend like this … (I’m) very proud of (Ogundeji and Wilson).”

Wilson logged her third consecutive hat trick of victories in the hammer throw, shot put and discus – winning all nine of the events she last competed in. Wilson’s final attempt in the shot put would have been a personal record nearing 18 meters, but officials controversially ruled the try foul.

“Even though I won, I was expecting a lot of further throws than that,” Wilson said. “(One official) was going to mark it, then the other (official) was like, ‘I think that’s a foul.’ … We went back to the video, and long story short, it wasn’t a foul.”

After winning her second event in the discus, Wilson closed Saturday by improving upon her school record and climbing to ninth all-time on the NCAA record list with a 70.63-meter toss in the hammer throw.

“I’m glad that I finally broke the 70-meter barrier,” Wilson said. “Now I’m up there on the world-class level with the other 70-meter throwers. … It still feels surreal to me.”

Ogundeji took second place in a shot put field consisting of five Bruins. Ogundeji’s new personal record of 21.05 meters propelled him to fourth all-time on UCLA’s outdoor list, past friend and former teammate Nicholas Scarvelis. It was Ogundeji’s first shot put personal record in two years because of injuries and a recovering shoulder.

“Scarvelis was actually one of the first people to congratulate me on my new (personal record),” Ogundeji said. “He called Frazier and was extremely excited when he heard.”

Ogundeji said the personal record meant more having accomplished a goal he set at the start of the season.

“I hit the world championship standard for (the International Association of Athletics Federations World Athletics Championships in Doha, Qatar), which was my main goal since the beginning of the year.”

Ogundeji’s personal record came on his second flight and incited a reaction consisting of shouts of excitement and praise from Frazier. Ogundeji turned to freshman Otito Ogbonnia preparing for his third attempt and told him to join him at the distance.

Ogbonnia climbed to 15th in the nation with a personal-best throw of 19.43 meters in the shot put on his next try.

“When I hit my throw I didn’t want to be the only one to have a good day,” Ogundeji said. “I want to encourage them to be able to enjoy the thrill of having a big throw and personal record just like I did. … I love seeing young throwers step up in meets and put on a show.”

Ogundeji tossed a career-best 58.83 meters to win the discus earlier on Saturday and sits at tenth place in the nation, now holding regional qualifying spots in two events.

On the track side, sophomore Tyler Janes and Oklahoma runner Luke George were neck-and-neck heading into the final lap of the 1500-meter race. Janes leapfrogged George in the final 200 meters to defeat him by 0.04 seconds.

Guttormsen won the men’s pole vault – but it wasn’t freshman Sondre Guttormsen who claimed first place. Rather, Sondre’s younger brother, Simen Guttormsen, participated in the event unattached and was the only competitor to jump over the 5.12-meter bar. Sophomore Tate Curran was runner-up with his second-place vault of 4.97 meters.

Prior to the last two events of the meet, the Bruin seniors lined up to face the stands in the final hometown showing of their UCLA careers.

“Leaving my mark in the manner that I did makes it even more special, since I will know I left it all out there for my last time,” Ogundeji said.

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Sports reporter

Lavalsiti is currently a reporter on the women's basketball and track & field beats.


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