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UCLA track and field divides and conquers at ‘Legends,’ Bryan Clay invitationals

Graduate student Lea Riedel prepares to launch a shot. Riedel won first place in the women’s shot put at the UCLA “Legends” Invitational. (Courtesy of UCLA Athletics)

By Rahaf Abumansour

April 15, 2024 4:53 p.m.

A new Bruin rose to her debut as the sun dipped below the horizon at Drake Stadium.

Donning the blue and gold, graduate student Lea Riedel won first place in the women’s shot put, reaching No. 10 on the all-time outdoor performance list with a throw of 17.13 meters.

“I am super happy that I won,” Riedel said. “Usually with the first meet of the season, it doesn’t go very well, but I am very happy with my result. It is a very good starting point for me, and I am excited for the season.”

UCLA track and field split into two squads this past weekend. The majority of Bruins stayed at home for the UCLA “Legends” Invitational, and the rest traveled to Azusa, California, for the the Bryan Clay Invitational.

The home meet featured many Bruins achieving podium finishes and personal bests.

The women’s and men’s high jump both swept the meet, as sophomore Leon Gillis and freshman Jake Stafford tied for first in the latter.

Stafford said pregame rituals help him prepare for events.

“Mentally, I usually listen to some music of high energy. Could be pop, rap,” Stafford said. “Physically, I try to get my body warm. I like to jump around a little and be the most explosive and athletic that I could be.”

On the women’s front, UCLA snatched first and second place with sophomore sprinter Jordan Robinson clearing 1.72 meters to lead all competitors. Graduate student jumper Julia Jordahl-Henry and junior jumper/sprinter Amber Jackson slated in at second clearing 1.67 meters each.

In the Bryan Clay Invitational, the Bruins completed crucial finishes on the track.

Sydney Johnson achieved a new heptathlon personal record, coming in first place with 5,514 points. The junior achieved new personal bests in the 100-meter hurdles, 200- and 800- meter dash and shot put.

With only three meets until the NCAA championships, Stafford said trusting the process is key.

“You have to focus on your training,” Stafford said. “Get ready to level up and let the competition bring the best out of yourself and just trust the training.”

Riedel – who is from Germany – said she is excited to compete at the highest level alongside other European athletes.

“NCAAs isn’t like my championships at home because there are so many throwers from different countries, some of them also from Europe,” Riedel said. “So I know that there are going to be girls who are very good, and I know what I need to perform well on that stage.”

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Rahaf Abumansour
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