The Bruins will add another chapter to their rivalry with the Trojans this weekend.
UCLA’s track and field team will travel to Cromwell Field and Loker Stadium at USC on Sunday to compete in the annual UCLA-USC dual meet. UCLA’s men’s team is currently ranked No. 21 in the nation to USC’s No. 8, while UCLA’s women’s team is ranked No. 24 to USC’s No. 4.
“This is a track meet where we can come together as a team and compete for the letters on our chest,” said redshirt senior sprinter Leon Powell. “Having the opportunity to win together and work together is what this meet means to me.”
In the all-time series, USC’s men’s team holds a 43-41 advantage over UCLA since 1934 – as the Trojans won the event in first 32 meets between the two teams. UCLA has won 41 out of the last 52 matchups between the two schools in recent history.
“I think that the potential we have is really exciting,” Powell said. “We’re a really young team, but we have really good talent. Once we put all the pieces together, we’ll start seeing results.”
On the women’s side, UCLA holds a 21-13 advantage over USC – though the Trojans have won the last five meets. Redshirt senior thrower Ashlie Blake thinks the Bruins can reverse that trend this season.
“Over the last five years we’ve gotten closer and closer to beating them. I just want to feel what it feels like to beat them this year, and I think we can do that,” Blake said. “We need to show LA and USC that UCLA is a team to be reckoned with and that we can beat them.”
In director Avery Anderson’s second year with the UCLA program, both teams are already showing growth. Last year, the Bruins sent four and three athletes to the men’s and women’s NCAA outdoor championships, respectively. This year, those numbers have risen to 14 and five individual competitors, respectively, with several more athletes within 15 spots of the top-48 qualifying mark.
“I want people to stay motivated and enthusiastic,” Blake said. “Usually, the last of anything is difficult because you can see the finish line. Instead of letting up, though, it’s time to hit the gas pedal because our last four meets are the most important meets and it starts with USC.”
The men’s and women’s throwing teams have combined to post more than 30 top-3 finishes in the shot put, discus, hammer throw and javelin.
Redshirt senior thrower Dotun Ogundeji is ranked No. 3 and No. 9 in the men’s shot put and discus, respectively, and sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson is ranked No. 1, No. 2 and No. 13 in the women’s shot put, hammer throw and discus, respectively.
“We can do something pretty big this year,” Ogundeji said. “We could go to the national championship and score the most points as a throw squad in NCAA history, which is our ultimate goal as a squad.”