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Weekend preview: Sept. 21

Freshman center Marcell Szécsi gets ready for the official to blow the whistle at Spieker Aquatics Center. (Julia Zhou/Assistant Photo editor)

By Benjamin Royer, Sam Schuette, and Sabrina Baker

Sept. 21, 2023 3:06 p.m.

Men’s water polo
Benjamin Royer, assistant Sports editor

Bruins have won MPSF West/S&R Sport Newcomer of the Week three weeks in a row.

Freshman center Marcell Szécsi was the latest to get it done, netting five goals in five attempts to cap off No. 2 UCLA men’s water polo’s (9-0, 1-0 MPSF) two-win weekend in Northern California. Now, the Bruins are heading home to Westwood for the 2023 Overnght/MPSF Invitational.

The tournament, which is set to take place from Friday through Sunday at both Spieker Aquatics Center and USC’s Uytengsu Aquatics Center, will have UCLA open at home against Occidental (3-2). Coach Adam Wright said it provides him more time to assess the Hungarian player’s emerging skill set.

“It’s extremely tough for him (Szécsi) coming here,” Wright said. “This is a completely different experience from home, and it takes time, you know, not only culturally, school-wise, but then of course, water polo-wise.

But Szécsi wasn’t the only Bruin to earn a weekly award; attacker Jack Larsen capped off UCLA’s sweep of the MPSF West honors.

The redshirt senior scored eight goals against No. 7 Pacific on Saturday – one short of the conference single-game record – and was named MPSF/Delfina Player of the Week. Wright said Larsen’s work ethic is part of why his goal-scoring acumen was on full display.

“A lot of it was being in the right place at the right time or teammates setting him up,” Wright said. “But Jack is beyond a versatile player, a talented player, and most importantly, he’s put the work in.”

If UCLA wins its tournament opener, the victor of No. 4 Pepperdine and No. 9 UC San Diego awaits in a game that would take place at USC on Saturday morning.

Larsen said no matter who the squad matches up against, the Bruins will be prepared for battle.

“At the end of the day, it just comes down to us and our solid water polo,” Larsen said. “It’s just one game at a time.”

Cross country
Sam Schuette, Daily Bruin contributor

Three weeks after their season opener, the Bruins will face a brand new challenge up north.

UCLA cross country will race in the Bill Dellinger Invitational on Friday in Eugene, Oregon. The meet will offer the Bruins their first taste of widespread conference competition, with three other Pac-12 teams slated to compete.

Coach Avery Anderson said the meet was an opportunity for his team to grow.

“It’s an opportunity to elevate our level of competition, … based on the fact that we are going to see other teams from different regions who are ranked pretty well,” Anderson said.

Notably, these opponents include the likes of Portland’s No. 9 men’s team, Texas’ No. 13 men’s team, Oregon’s No. 7 women’s team and No. 15 men’s team and Oregon State’s No. 17 women’s team.

This trip also marks the third straight year that the Bruins will compete at the Bill Dellinger Invitational. Anderson said the familiarity the team has with the course will come in handy.

“The sense of familiarity is something that we’re going to rely on,” Anderson said. “Knowing the course and the competition, we’re going to use that to compete well and run hard.”

While this is only the second meet of the team’s season, Anderson emphasized its significance in the long run.

“We still have a long way to go until the end of the season,” Anderson said. “But as the season goes on, this is going to be one of those things that allows us to sharpen ourselves as a team and a group.”

Women’s golf
Sabrina Baker, Daily Bruin reporter

The Bruins are swinging into a new season with a new head coach.

Alicia Um Holmes, who has spent the last 17 years with UCLA women’s golf as both an assistant and associate head coach, will make her head coaching debut this weekend at the Mason Rudolph Championship in Franklin, Tennessee. The tournament will be a three-day, stroke play format with a field of 18 teams. No. 11 Arizona State and No. 24 Arizona are also coming from the Pac-12.

Um Holmes said she is looking forward to the opportunity to lead the team her way.

“I want more team camaraderie and more enjoyment in competing,” Um Holmes said. “I want to get to know all the girls. We have a lot of new players on the team.”

The team has four new and four returning players on the roster this season. The returners – juniors Zoe Antoinette Campos and Caroline Canales, redshirt junior Alessia Nobilio and senior Kate Villegas – will be in the tournament lineup alongside sophomore transfer Meghan Royal.

Um Holmes said the lineup was determined by qualifying rounds during practice, where each player earned a spot in the lineup.

“Only one of our new girls (Royal) got into the lineup,” Um Holmes said. “I’m excited to see how she does. She played great during qualifying rounds. She looks really happy and ready to go for the tournament.”

With the Bruins set to tee off on Friday at the Vanderbilt Legends Club for their first tournament of the season, Um Holmes said she wanted the squad to focus internally.

“I just really want them to stick to their process goals,” Um Holmes said. “So, not results orientated, but just sticking to what they are trying to do personally.”

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Benjamin Royer | Assistant Sports editor
Royer is the 2023-2024 Assistant Sports editor on the baseball, gymnastics and men's water polo beats and a reporter on the football beat. He was previously a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats. He is also a fourth-year communication student.
Royer is the 2023-2024 Assistant Sports editor on the baseball, gymnastics and men's water polo beats and a reporter on the football beat. He was previously a staff writer on the baseball, football and gymnastics beats. He is also a fourth-year communication student.
Sabrina Baker | Sports contributor
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
Baker is currently a Sports contributor on the swim & dive beat.
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