Monday, May 25

Several track and field athletes use Pac-12s to set records, crack top 48

The Bruins were able to capture two event wins at the Pac-12 championships this weekend. Sophomore thrower Simon Litzell was responsible for one of those wins in the men's javelin. (Habeba Mostafa/Daily Bruin)

Every year, the Pac-12 championship marks the start of the final phase of the outdoor track and field season.

This weekend’s meet was the last chance many Bruins would have to qualify for the NCAA Division I West regional meet in two weeks’ time.

The field team that has been UCLA’s backbone this season was yet again the most successful contingent of Bruins.

Sophomore thrower Simon Litzell was the big news for UCLA over the weekend. In the men’s javelin throw, he tossed a new PR mark of 74.46 meters, beating the next-best finisher by nearly 8 meters. He took home the Pac-12 event win and is now No. 5 on the UCLA all-time top 10.

His teammate and fellow sophomore Marian Spannowsky threw 66.11 meters in his second throw of the meet and went on to secure a third-place finish.

During Sunday’s triple jump, senior Jessie Maduka claimed the Pac-12 event victory for the Bruins. Her leap of 13.59 meters wasn’t even her personal best, but it was enough for first place at Stanford.

Freshman thrower Alyssa Wilson also found success on the day, taking second overall in the women’s hammer throw Saturday, throwing a PR of 66.53 meters and landing herself a No. 3 spot on UCLA’s all-time outdoor top-10 list.

Yet another thrower, junior Justin Stafford, placed in the top three for the Bruins. His mark of 63.77 meters in the men’s hammer throw gave him third place at the meet, even though it was a meter shy of his collegiate best.

Despite a number of season bests, many other Bruins will come home from Stanford without making the cut for regionals.

The top 48 athletes in each event will qualify for a spot at the regional meet. As it stands right now, many of the Bruins who started outside the top 48 stayed there and will have their seasons come to an early end.

Senior sprinter Jelvon Butler posted a season best in the women’s 200 meters with a time of 23.67 seconds, but it wasn’t enough to break the top 48.

“(Assistant coach Curtis Allen)¬†and I walked the track before the meet,” Butler said. “We set marks of where my drive, sprint, flow and push phases were going to be. … It turned out to be a PR, which is pretty good.”

Senior sprinter Ashley Lewis ran alongside Butler in the 200 and posted a time of 24.02. She also ran the 100 meter and posted a collegiate-best of her own at 11.74, but both she and Butler remain outside the top 48.

Sophomore distance runner Riley Kelly didn’t make it past Saturday’s men’s 800 meter preliminary, and junior George Gleason’s time 3:46.77 in the men’s 1,500 meter meant he had to settle for 10th on the day.

“In the final on the last lap the guys went into an extra gear I just didn’t have,” Gleason said. “(Speed is something ) I’m going to need to work on over the next few weeks.”

Junior Robert Brandt said he went into this race seeking only to better his season-best time of 13:41.23 in the men’s 5,000, but was unable to do so.

However, he will still likely compete at the regional meet that is now just under two weeks away as his season-best time slots him at No. 22 in the nation.

Yekikian joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2016 and contributed until he graduated in 2018. He was an assistant Sports editor for the 2017-2018 academic year and spent time on the softball, men's soccer, women's volleyball, track and field, cross country and rowing beats.

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