Track and field notches 12 victories in 1st outdoor event of season
Junior Lauren McFall threw her way into the UCLA track and field history books with a 46.84-meter javelin throw. (Courtesy of James Lee/UCLA Athletics)
March 15, 2021 3:12 p.m.
It was a busy weekend across the country for the Bruins.
UCLA track and field kicked off its outdoor schedule at the Ben Brown Invitational, also sending a women’s relay team to the NCAA Indoor Championships in Arkansas to conclude the indoor portion of the schedule.
Last season, the indoor championships were canceled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The outdoor schedule, which would have begun soon after, was also canceled.
At the Ben Brown Invitational in Fullerton, the women’s team emerged with a first-place finish, seven points ahead of host Cal State Fullerton. The men’s team took home second place, 18 points behind Cal State Fullerton and 61 points ahead of UC Irvine. In total, the Bruins left with 12 event victories.
Junior Lauren McFall took second place in the javelin and said her return to action was a long time coming.
“Last time I competed, it was in May of 2019,” McFall said. “It was just, it was really exciting, and a huge confidence boost.”
McFall, who participates exclusively in outdoor competition, never had the chance to compete last season once the NCAA announced the cancellation of all athletic seasons. The junior said she entered the weekend with no expectations, but emerged with a career milestone, a toss of 46.84 meters. The career-best toss moved her up to fifth of all time on the program’s list for javelin.
“The fact that I’m now on the board for that is just a huge honor,” McFall said. “Who knows how far I’ll get, but it feels really, really awesome to be amongst some of the greatest throwers that UCLA has seen.”
McFall was not the only athlete returning from an extended break. Junior Dakota Stanly also lost her 2020 season with an injury, anchoring her 4×400-meter relay team to victory.
“With COVID taking so much time away from us, we are trying to do our very best working as hard as we possibly can,” Stanly said. “We’re trying to be as positive and happy as possible.”
The first outdoor meet of the season produced performances that impressed assistant coach Marshall Ackley, who noted that the meet marked the debuts for some in outdoor competition. Among the debutants was sophomore Maddy Doane, who notched three victories, headlined by an 11.80 in the 100-meter dash.
For the men, sophomore Myles Misener-Daley made his collegiate debut in the 4×400-meter relay, contributing to the team’s time of 3:14.09 in the event victory. Ackley noted it was his first competition since high school.
“We had a lot of performances on … both the men’s and the women’s side that were, you know, really, really out there,” Ackley said. “It’s been a long waiting game during COVID. So to be able to get the athletes back out on the track and in uniform and competing was really a great thing to see. You know, we had some event wins on both the men and women’s side that showed us that we’re on the right path.”
In Arkansas, the women’s 4×400-meter relay finished in 10th place during the indoor championships. The team of redshirt junior Shae Anderson, sophomore Catherine Leger, sophomore Chinyere Okoro and sophomore Makenzy Pierre-Webster ran a season-best 3:35.23 on the final day of the competition.
It was the second consecutive season the women saw the 4×400-meter relay qualify for national championships, but the 2020 meet was canceled in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Qualifying for the national championship off of one competition is a tough thing to do,” Ackley said. “For them to toe the line and be able to compete with some of the best teams and some of the best athletes in the world is a very, very great thing.”
UCLA’s season continues March 24, when it hosts the Jim Bush Legends Invitational at Drake Stadium.