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Track and field secures three top-five finishes at Alex Wilson Invitational

Senior distance runner Arturo Sotomayor was part of the Bruins’ distance medley relay team that claimed a fifth-place finish at the Alex Wilson Invitational for UCLA track and field. (Daily Bruin file photo)

By David Deng

Feb. 23, 2020 3:55 p.m.

On Saturday, a group of Bruin runners delivered three top-five finishes, one of which was a top-three time in UCLA history.

Six members of UCLA track and field competed in the Alex Wilson Invitational in Notre Dame, Indiana. The group posted three top-five results from a relay and two individual finishes.

In the mile, senior distance runner George Gleason finished in second place with a time of 4:07.98, while freshman distance runner Mason Ratkovich earned fourth with a time of 4:10.06.

“I just want to compete to the best of my ability,” Gleason said. “Just putting myself in the top three of whatever race I’m in sets me up for those races in the outdoor season, where it’ll really matter. A lot of those qualifying races are based on place in the race, so I just want to focus on putting myself in those positions where I’m able to qualify.”

The other four Bruin runners present at the meet – senior distance runner Arturo Sotomayor, senior distance runner Riley Kelly, junior distance runner Chris Morzenti and freshman sprinter Ismail Turner – were participants in the distance medley relay. In this quartet’s first-ever race together, it earned fifth place with a time of 9:32.14, the third-best DMR time in UCLA history.

This marked UCLA’s first trip to the Midwest this season. For a Bruin team that’s used to competing in West Coast states, Gleason said adjusting to the frigid Midwest climate was important for the team this meet.

“I mean it literally takes some warming up to do,” Gleason said. “We’re so spoiled here with warm weather pretty constantly, and then you get over to Indiana and it’s something like 20 degrees even though it’ll be sunny out. We’ll go and run out in that before the race, probably warm up about three miles, and then we’ll head back to the facility and get ready to race.”

Sotomayor ran the 1200-meter leg of the DMR after setting a personal-best mile time of 4:01.63 in the Husky Classic one week ago. He said part of his success was due to his training with assistant distance running coach Austin O’Neil.

“(O’Neil) was on the UCLA record-breaking team that made it to nationals back in 2015, 2016, so having him come with us and mentor us and having good faith in us, that really helped us this week,” Sotomayor said.

Next week, UCLA will be in Seattle for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships. Last year, the Bruin men’s team finished in second place, while the women’s team came in 13th.

Earlier in the season, senior sprinter Harrison Schrage said winning at the MPSF championships will be important for the team.

“Definitely walking away with MPSF championships indoors (is a huge goal),” Schrage said.

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David Deng | Sports reporter
Deng is currently a Sports reporter on the women's volleyball beat. He was previously a contributor on the cross country, men's volleyball and track & field beats.
Deng is currently a Sports reporter on the women's volleyball beat. He was previously a contributor on the cross country, men's volleyball and track & field beats.
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