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UCLA track and field returns from road with career bests ahead of Pac-12 Challenge

Junior sprinters Makenzy Pierre-Webster (left) and Catherine Leger (right) pose for a photo in Albuquerque, New Mexico. UCLA track and field sent separate teams to Albuquerque and Seattle for two separate meets on Friday and Saturday. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

By Garrison Hallum

Feb. 16, 2022 4:58 p.m.

Multiple Bruins earned top-10 marks in program history over the weekend.

UCLA track and field traveled to both Seattle and Albuquerque, New Mexico, for the Husky Classic and the Don Kirby Invitational, respectively, on Friday and Saturday in split-squad competitions. The meets were the team’s fifth and sixth indoor competition events this season in which the Bruins continued their record-setting run.

Coach Avery Anderson said he was pleased with individual performances, particularly from the women’s side.

“We had some really good performances, running out front in individual races with some pretty fast times,” Anderson said. “Everyone ran pretty well. I thought the women as a group ran well.”

At the Husky Classic, junior sprinters Catherine Leger and Makenzy Pierre-Webster finished fifth and sixth, respectively, in the women’s 200-meter race on Friday. Leger recorded a time of 23.34 seconds, a new career high that nearly broke Pierre-Webster’s program record of 23.33 seconds set two meets prior.

The following day in Seattle, senior distance runner Gwyn George earned a personal best in the indoor mile, finishing with a time of 4:44.61. George’s performance was also the fifth-fastest finish in UCLA history for the women’s indoor mile.

Anderson said George has shown significant improvement thus far in her fourth year with the program.

“Gwyn George had a really strong race, showing that she’s in a different place this year,” Anderson said. “Really all of the athletes that ran did a really good job.”

Junior distance runner Peter Herold was the first Bruin to cross the finish line in the men’s individual mile, finishing in 11th place overall with a time of 4:01.75. Herold said that despite achieving a new personal record, he still has room to improve in the event.

There’s a lot of good takeaways from that race. One of my biggest takeaways was that I really want to come away sub-four,” Herold said. “The team’s done a lot better just in this indoor track season compared to our cross country season.”

No UCLA runner has run a sub-four minute mile in collegiate competition, with former Bruin Austin O’Neil’s 4:00.19 performance in 2016 marking a program best.

With the team’s next competition – the Pac-12 Challenge – coming up in nine days, Herold said the team is structuring its focus to larger-scale events.

“It was a big meet, but it’s not, ‘The meet,'” Herold said. “I think one of the main things we are focusing on is the one in two weeks at Pac-12s, and then go from there.”

The Bruins have just over a week to prepare for the Pac-12 Challenge, a two-day event taking place on Feb. 25 and 26 at the Dempsey Indoor center in Seattle.

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Garrison Hallum | Sports contributors
Hallum is currently a contributor on the track & field and swim & dive beats.
Hallum is currently a contributor on the track & field and swim & dive beats.
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