Thursday, February 20

Weekend in Preview: Nov. 1

The divers of UCLA swim and dive will compete in their first dual meet of season on the road, traveling to both Arizona and Arizona State. After winning their first three meets of the season, the Bruins enter November ranked No. 23 in the nation. (Liz Ketcham/Photo editor)

Swim & dive
Coral Smith, Assistant Sports editor

The Bruin divers will make their season debut Friday.

No. 23 UCLA swim and dive (3-0, 1-0 Pac-12) will compete in back-to-back days of dual meets this weekend against conference opponents, first facing off against Arizona (2-1, 0-1) on Friday afternoon, and then taking on No. 25 Arizona State (1-0, 1-0) on Saturday.

This will be the first meet of the season in which the Bruins’ divers will compete. Though only two of the five divers on the roster this year are freshmen, two others have limited experience in NCAA competition.

Sophomore Veronica Thompson appeared only three times in her freshman year – getting shut down after Nov. 11 because of injury – and junior Ruby Neave didn’t compete in her first two years, the second of which was due to injury.

Diving coach Tom Stebbins said that with the lack of meet experience for most of the divers, this weekend’s contest will be a good test for most of them to start the season.

“It’s kind of like having all freshmen, because (junior Alice Yanovsky) is the only person with any true experience,” Stebbins said. “It’ll be good, they’ve done a good job of handling the work; we’ll see how they handle the pressure of standing in there when the lights come on.”

The first race against the Wildcats will start at 2 p.m. on Friday, and Saturday’s meet against the Sun Devils will kick off at 11 a.m.

Cross country
Vinny Lavalsiti, Daily Bruin staff

(Courtesy of Don Liebig/UCLA Athletics)

Redshirt senior Robert Brandt has an opportunity to become the first Bruin to win the Pac-12 individual title since Meb Keflizighi in 1996.

UCLA cross country will compete at the Pac-12 cross country championship held in Monmouth, Oregon, on Friday. Brandt holds the best 8K time among a Pac-12 field consisting of four top-10 teams, including No. 10 UCLA.

“It’s more bragging rights,” Brandt said. “If you can win Pac-12s, it’s really a statement to the country because the Pac-12 conference is arguably the best conference in the country for distance running.”

UCLA’s top three runners – Brandt, redshirt senior Colin Burke and senior Garrett Reynolds – are the fastest trio in the Pac-12, but the gap between UCLA’s third and fifth runners has prevented the Bruins from cutting their point total.

Brandt said whether it’s redshirt junior Chris Morzenti or redshirt seniors Millen Trujillo and George Gleason, UCLA needs one man to step up.

At the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Sept. 28, Brandt finished in second, while the Bruins’ fifth runner trickled in at 34th. At the Nuttycombe Wisconsin Invitational on Oct. 18, 73 places separated the Bruins’ third and fifth runners.

“Our biggest weak spot is our spread,” Brandt said. “All it takes is a big performance from one of those guys on the day and it can really pay dividends on the overall score.”

The UCLA women will also head to Oregon for the Pac-12 championships this weekend. The women’s unit placed ninth and 33rd in its last two races. Junior Christina Rice – who helped the women to a fifth-place finish at the 2018 Pac-12 cross country championship – said she hopes the team’s practice results translate to the course.

“We’ve done a good job addressing where we can improve,” Rice said. “I think we’re excited to see what we can do at Pac-12s, what we can learn from our mistakes and do better.”

The men’s 8K and women’s 6K races will begin at 11 a.m. and noon, respectively.

Men’s golf
Justin Auh, Daily Bruin staff

(Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

UCLA men’s golf will wrap up its fall season in Hawaii.

The Bruins will compete in the Ka’anapali Classic Collegiate Invitational in Ka’anapali, Hawaii, from Friday through Sunday.

At the same tournament last year, UCLA finished at a 27-under 825, tying for fourth. Then-freshman Bryan Wiyang Teoh placed the Bruins with an 8-under 205 that tied for 11th place. The other Bruin to place in the top 20 was then-sophomore Eddy Lai, who shot 6-under to tie for 18th.

The team is coming off a third-place finish at the Cypress Point Classic. After defeating Illinois 2.5-0.5 in fourball, UCLA lost its foursomes match against Georgia Tech 0-2, setting up a consolation singles match against Stanford.

UCLA won three out of six singles duels and tied the other two to defeat Stanford 4-2 and claim third place.

Coach Derek Freeman said his players will have an opportunity to close the fall on a high note as they prepare for their second tournament this week.

“(Cypress Point Club) was a golf course that is very different from what we’re going to see in Hawaii,” Freeman said. “I’m proud of the guys for just … doing a great job staying in their matches and hitting good golf shots. We just need to continue building on that, and I think this is going to be great momentum for our last event in the fall.”

The Bruins tee off Friday at the Royal Ka’anapali Golf Course.

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Assistant Sports editor

Smith is currently an assistant Sports editor on the softball, gymnastics, women's volleyball, swim & dive and rowing beats. She was previously a reporter on the softball, women's volleyball, rowing and swim & dive beats.

Sports staff

Lavalsiti is currently a Sports staff writer on the softball beat. He was previously a reporter on the women's basketball, cross country and track & field beats.

Sports staff

Auh is currently a Sports staff writer for the men's golf and women's golf beats. He was previously a contributor on the men's tennis beat.

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