UCLA track and field prepares to compete in NCAA West Preliminary Rounds
Sophomore sprinter Aly Conyers races in the dual meet against USC. Conyers will be representing the Bruins this week in the 4×100 relay and 4×400 relay. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin staff)
May 23, 2023 7:22 p.m.
This post was updated May 23 at 11:19 p.m.
A spot on the nation’s biggest stage is on the line this week at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.
UCLA track and field will be competing in the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds from Wednesday to Saturday in Sacramento. The Bruins have earned entries in multiple events, such as the men’s and women’s 4×400-meter relay, men’s and women’s 4×100-meter relay, 1500-meter race, 400-meter dash and hammer, discus and javelin throws.
The men’s 4×400-meter relay squad notably landed the top seed as junior sprinter Antonie Nortje, graduate student sprinter Willington Wright and senior sprinters Ismail Turner and Cameron Reynolds look to build on their record-breaking season thus far. UCLA will also be competing in the 4×100-meter relay with graduate student sprinter Eric Allen Jr., senior sprinter Myles Misener-Daley, Turner and Nortje.
Wright – a transfer from Texas – said his experience has taught him how to approach the pressure of this high-stakes meet.
“You happen to be talking to a vet,” Wright said. “As long as I am confident in what I am doing, then the sky is the limit.”
The Bruins will have many chances for qualification in the 400-meter dash with Misener-Daley, Turner, Wright, Reynolds and Nortje. Rounding out the races for the Bruins on the men’s side is senior sp
rinter Mason Ratkovich competing in the 1500-meter race, senior sprinter Liam Anderson competing in the 110-meter hurdles, freshman sprinter Yan Vazquez competing in the 400-meter hurdles and junior sprinter Peter Herold competing in the 3000-meter steeplechase.
UCLA also touts five representatives on the men’s side for throwing events. Senior thrower Anoop Khatra will compete in the javelin throw, sophomore thrower Kris Emig and freshman thrower Michael Pinckney will participate in the hammer throw, while junior thrower Aidan Elbettar and sophomore thrower Gabriel Katches along with Pinckney will compete in the discus throw.
On the women’s side, the Bruins are fielding the same team for both the 4×400-meter and 4×100-meter relays. This team consists of sophomore sprinter Aly Conyers, senior sprinter Maddy Doane, sophomore sprinter Makenzy Pierre-Webster and freshman sprinter Naomi Johnson.
Of all her events, Conyers said the relays are her favorite as the camaraderie of the team makes success more rewarding.
“The relays are definitely my favorite event, more so than my individuals because it’s something about really accomplishing a goal with your team that’s just so much better than just doing something yourself,” Conyers said.
Sophomore sprinter Mia Barnett is the No. 4 seed in the 1500-meter race. Pierre-Webster is also the school’s lone representative in the 100- and 200-meter sprints. Conyers, Johnson and junior sprinter Kate Jendrezak are the only Bruins competing in the 400-meter sprint.
Besides qualifying for the NCAA championships, Conyers said she has another goal in mind for herself for this meet.
“My main goal would definitely be to PR,” Conyers said. “(And) Make sure that I go to the meet, and ev
en if I don’t qualify knowing that I gave the meet my all.”
Graduate student thrower Federica Botter will try to keep her momentum from her school record-shattering performance at the Pac-12 championships in javelin throw coming into this competition. Graduate student thrower Mayyi Mahama is the No. 3 seed in the hammer throw.
Wright exuded confidence as he capped off his thoughts on the upcoming competition.
“My boys, we show up every single time,” Wright said. “Whether it’s a new lineup, whether it’s a different order, we are going to run regardless. It doesn’t matter who is in the race, it doesn’t matter what other big name might be there. If they can’t do it that day, we (are) the cleanup crew.”