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Propelled by sophomore star, track and field breaks records at Aztec Invitational

Sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson has posted nine first-place finishes so far this season, adding three to her total after her performances at the Aztec Invitational this weekend. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By Vinny Lavalsiti

March 24, 2019 5:04 p.m.

The Bruins’ results from this weekend were headlined by one thrower in particular.

UCLA track and field sent 12 throwers and five pole vaulters to compete at the Aztec Invitational in San Diego this weekend. Sophomore thrower Alyssa Wilson entered Friday with six event victories and returned with three more after her performances on Saturday. She is now listed in the UCLA all-time top 10 in five throwing events.

“I don’t really count wins,” Wilson said. “At the end of the day, it’s about (setting personal records) and making the team look good.”

Wilson opened the weekend with a personal-best 68.11-meter toss in the hammer throw, breaking the UCLA outdoor program record by two inches as well as the Aztec Invitational facility record.

“It was great to be able to get a nice (personal record) on my first meet and come away with the school record,” Wilson said.

After posting distances of roughly 60 meters in the discus warmups, Wilson set personal bests on each of her first three tosses and landed on UCLA’s top-10 list for the event with her third throw of 56.58 meters.

“Overall, it was a pretty good series,” Wilson said. “I had a lot of far discus warmups and then the nerves kind of hit me and I just had to refocus. … I knew that I would break (my personal record) this season, it was just a matter of fact of when it would happen.”

Wilson ended the day with a first-place throw of 16.12 meters in the shot put.

The Bruins posted another first-place finish in the javelin – an event not in Wilson’s repertoire – after a 44.27-meter heave from sophomore Ilaria Casorotto .

Casorotto saw an improvement of nearly 10 feet on her final two throws since her performance at the Willie Williams Classic in Tuscon, Arizona, on March 14.

“That was the best part of the weekend (for me),” Casorotto said. “Even if last weekend I had a bad performance, the work during this week was very focused and we paid attention to a lot of details.”

Freshman thrower Otito Ogbonnia led the shot put field after two flights, but his teammate redshirt sophomore Nate Esparza ousted him with a 19.05-meter throw to round out the first-place finishes for the Bruins. Ogbonnia eclipsed a personal best on his fifth throw with a second-place hurl of 18.44 meters.

Despite not competing, redshirt senior throwers Dotun Ogundeji and Ashlie Blake, and senior thrower Justin Stafford, attended the meet to support their teammates and cheer them on during events.

“I like how the seniors, (Ogundeji, Stafford and Blake) have been there to encourage the younger athletes,” said throwing coach John Frazier. “Just creating the atmosphere of a championship team.”

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Vinny Lavalsiti | Alumnus
Lavalsiti joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the softball, women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.
Lavalsiti joined the Bruin as a junior transfer in 2018 and contributed until he graduated in 2020. He spent time on the softball, women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.
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