The UCLA track and field team officially opened its season with 15 top-three finishes.
The full Bruin squad traveled to Albuquerque, New Mexico, to compete at the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Collegiate Invitational on Friday and Saturday after the team’s throwers opened their season a week ago at the NAU Friday Night Duals in Flagstaff, Arizona.
Standout performers for the women’s team were sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson, who brought home two first-place finishes in the shot put and weight throw, and redshirt senior pole vaulter Elleyse Garrett, who finished first in the pole vault.
Wilson and redshirt senior thrower Ashlie Blake threw approximately 10 feet further than the third-place finisher in the shot put, which was the same distance between the third and 21st place finishers.
Garrett’s first-place finish comes on the heels of nearly a year away from competition, as she redshirted during the outdoor season last year.
“I know I have a lot to improve on; the goal of the first meet is to kind of figure everything out,” Garrett said. “After redshirting, I’m really looking forward to coming back, competing and having fun while doing it.”
On the men’s team, senior jumper CJ Alumbres placed first in the triple jump. Freshman jumper Sean Lee, redshirt senior thrower Dotun Ogundeji and senior thrower Justin Stafford joined him as the other field athletes to earn top-two finishes, in the high jump, shot put and weight throw, respectively.
For the men’s track athletes, freshman sprinter Seth Holloway, senior sprinter Cameron Stone and redshirt junior distance runner Millen Trujillo earned second-place finishes in the 60-meter dash, 400m dash and mile run, respectively.
Track and field director Avery Anderson said he was pleased with the progress the team’s jumpers have made but is looking to maintain constant improvement for the entire team.
“We had a couple of good performances out of the meet; (Alumbres) jumped well and (Garrett) jumped well,” Anderson said. “First meet out, the jumpers had a solid meet; for everyone else, it’s a matter of, ‘You won’t run your best the first meet,’ so I’m not going to place as much of an emphasis on times or marks right now.”
Alumbres said he also was focused on incremental, weekly improvement and that he was looking forward to improving on his opening marks as the season progresses.
“I’m happy with the win, but I was expecting a better mark,” Alumbres said. “This was one of those meets where I have to take it like it’s practice and move on. It’s my last year, so I have high expectations for myself.”
UCLA will compete at the Dr. Sander Columbia Challenge in New York City on Jan. 25 and 26.