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After success at prelims, UCLA track & field heads to Texas for NCAA championships

Sophomore Mia Barnett competes in the USC dual meet at Drake Stadium. Barnett qualified to represent the Bruins at the NCAA Championships in the 1500-meter race this season. (Jack Stenzel/Daily Bruin staff)

By Sam Schuette

May 29, 2023 10:57 p.m.

This post was updated May 29 at 11:26 p.m.

The Bruins will be well represented in Austin.

After competing at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds, the Bruins are heading to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships beginning this Wednesday. The prelims took place in Sacramento and lasted from Wednesday to Saturday.

The Bruins had a strong showing at the prelims, sending several athletes to the NCAA Championships. Eight men and nine women earned the qualification for UCLA.

One of the qualifying athletes was senior Myles Misener-Daley, who advanced in three events – the most of any Bruin. The Canada native will compete in the individual 400 meters, the 4x100m relay and the 4x400m relay at the championships.

The men’s 4x100m relay team featured Misener-Daley, graduate student Willington Wright, junior Antonie Nortje and junior Kaden Reynolds. Misener-Daley, Wright and Nortje also represented the 4x400m team alongside senior Cameron Reynolds.

Misener-Daley credited teamwork for the men’s relay success at the prelims after enduring the loss of senior Ismail Turner to injury earlier this month.

“It doesn’t really matter who runs,” Misener-Daley said. “We’re prepared for whoever we need to run, and we work as a team to get it done.”

This next-man-up mentality has been a staple of the men’s relay team all year. Throughout the outdoor season, they’ve trotted out multiple relay combinations, particularly in the 4×400.

Despite the occasional lack of continuity, the squad has found success. They ran the fourth-best mark in NCAA history earlier this season and are now headed to the NCAA championships with a slightly different group.

The other men to qualify were junior Peter Herold in the 3000m steeplechase and redshirt senior Jalyn Jackson in the triple jump.

On the women’s side, the Bruins qualified in the 4x100m relay and 4x400m relay. Sophomore Lyvante Su’emai advanced in the discus throw, sophomore Mia Barnett in the 1500m, senior Emma Tavella in the 3000m steeplechase and junior Rose Pittman in the 800m.

The meet also posed a unique challenge to the team, as it featured multiple rounds across multiple days. One solid performance didn’t guarantee qualification for many athletes who had to compete in several rounds. The meet required consistency.

Coach Avery Anderson said the team has been dialed in this postseason.

“It’s what we’ve been preparing for all year,” Anderson said. “Everybody came in focused on that goal of qualifying on to the next round.”

Anderson also spoke of the team’s progress since the indoor season at the start of the calendar year.

“We’ve started to grow into our championship identity,” Anderson said. “We see the semblance of this becoming a championship-caliber program.”

Several individual athletes’ growth has coincided with that of the overall team. Herold and Tavella captured personal records in the men’s and women’s 3000m steeplechase, respectively.

Distance runner Barnett ran a personal best of 4:08.44 in the 1500m after earning a personal best in the previous round of the prelims. In all, it is a six-second improvement since the start of the outdoor season.

Barnett credited her recent breakthroughs to a commitment to the process.

“What’s led to that improvement is just remaining patient with myself and the process,” Barnett said. “I’ve had a lot of great races, but not being satisfied with those and wanting to push more has helped me.”

Moving forward, the 17 qualifying Bruins will head to Austin, Texas, for the NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships. It’s the same site as the Texas Relays meet they ran earlier this season, which featured strong performances from both the men and women.

With the championships quickly approaching, Misener-Daley has his goals set high.

“I want to put UCLA on the map,” Misener-Daley said. “I want people to get a little worried when we’re in the race with them.”

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Sam Schuette
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