UCLA track and field secures podium finishes at Pac-12 championships
Redshirt senior thrower Jacob Wilson prepares to launch the shot during UCLA track and field’s home meet against USC on May 1. Wilson secured a second-place overall finish in the men’s shot put at the Pac-12 championships. (Jeremy Chen/Daily Bruin staff)
May 18, 2022 10:39 p.m.
The Bruins secured multiple podium finishes to advance in the postseason.
UCLA track and field participated in the Pac-12 championships, a three-day meet at Hayward Field in Eugene, over the weekend. In what could have been the final meet for many members of the blue and gold, multiple Bruins posted their best marks of the season.
The women’s squad finished sixth overall out of a pool of 12 teams while the men’s team finished in seventh.
On the women’s side, the 4×400-meter relay team finished at the top of the pack on day three. The quartet consisting of junior sprinters Catherine Leger and Makenzy Pierre-Webster, sophomore sprinter Kate Jendrezak and redshirt senior sprinter Shae Anderson secured a time of 3:31.49, beating out second-place USC by one second.
Leger, Pierre-Webster and Anderson also participated in the 4×100-meter relay along with junior sprinter Maddy Doane. The team’s time of 43.77 seconds was UCLA’s eighth-fastest time ever and earned a third-place spot on the podium.
The men shared similar success in the 4×400 meter. Senior sprinter Seth Holloway and junior sprinters Myles Misener-Daley, Ismail Turner and Cameron Reynolds put together their best time of the season with a mark of 3:03.53, placing second and trailing first place by 0.14 seconds. This earned them not only the ninth-fastest time in program history but also the fastest since 1999.
Coach Avery Anderson said he was impressed by the performances in the relays and added that he knows there’s even more to be achieved as the team heads deeper into the postseason.
“Those were amazing runs by both squads. Both races were some of the best in the country,” Avery Anderson said. “As far as moving forward, this is exactly what we saw last year. It’s about continuing to train and see the times drop down as we get deeper.”
On the field, Bruin athletes continued the same trend of podium finishes. Redshirt senior thrower Jacob Wilson got himself a second-place finish in the men’s shot put with a toss of 19.28 meters (63-03.25). Wilson said his performance was a special moment, especially considering the obstacles he’s faced during his final year with the blue and gold.
“Every athlete thinks about the championship for the entire season – you imagine, dream about it and hope you can make the moment happen,” Wilson said. “It was emotional and a great moment. This season has been tough with the injuries I’ve dealt with. It was great to finally start feeling healthy and getting the marks.”
Knowing how few opportunities he has remaining in collegiate competition, Wilson added that he knew every throw would be meaningful but he still has higher goals for his final season.
“As soon as it left my hand, I knew it was a good one – I put my hands up and cheered. I knew that was going to put me on the podium,” Wilson said. “The throw at the Pac-12s was a good moment, but it was not the top end. We are gunning for regional, national and All-American marks.”
There were a slew of personal bests from other athletes in field events. Freshman thrower Kris Emig secured a lifetime-best throw of 67.36 meters (221-0), getting him a fourth-place finish. Another lifetime best came from graduate student jumper Matthew DeRoos, who went 15.33 meters (50-03.50) in the triple jump. In her first Pac-12 championships, freshman thrower Lyvante Su’emai continued her rookie campaign by finishing fourth in the discus with a mark of 54.65 meters (179-3).
Avery Anderson said there is a different energy when postseason starts, adding that he and the team relished the added excitement.
“The athletes were fired up going in,” Avery Anderson said. “We had come together as a team and really said we were going to go out and lay it on the line.”
The Bruins will now prepare for the NCAA West Preliminaries in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where athletes will have a chance to qualify for the national championships.
“Mentally, they got to stay on the top of their game with their expectations being super high going into the regional and the championships,” Avery Anderson said. “This is where it’s at its most intense for student-athletes. Take all the steps we need to take and continue to charge forward.”
The Bruins will next compete on May 25 for the four-day preliminary meet that will determine which athletes will get to continue their postseason run.