Feb. 15, 2001
Last year was a transition season for the UCLA men's track and field team with Art Venegas inheriting the head coaching position from Bob Larsen. The young Bruins qualified four athletes to the NCAA Outdoor and tied for fourth-place at the Pacific-10 Championships.
But the Bruins in 2000 also showed why they are still one of the nation's top dual meet squads, beating heavily favored USC, 88-75 at Drake Stadium. It was the Bruins' 22nd consecutive dual victory over the Trojans.
Venegas, acknowledged as one of the world's top throws coaches, in 2001 will continue to build his own Bruin legacy, starting with a freshman recruiting class that will reload UCLA on all fronts. Track & Field News rated this year's UCLA freshman class No. 4 in the nation.
Five Veteran Leaders Returning
Returning veterans for the Bruins from last year's squad include five team leaders - seniors, hurdler John Hall, pole vaulter Steve Michels and spinter Bryan Harrison, along with juniors, thrower Scott Moser and distance runner Bryan Green.
Hall, from Anaheim Servite HS, last year as a junior qualified for the NCAA Outdoor in the 400m hurdles (50.44, No. 9 in school history), at the Pac-10, placed second and also ran the third leg on UCLA's 4 X 400m relay that finished second. A talented athlete, Hall is a member of the Bruin football team, playing in the secondary and on specialty teams.
Michels, from Long Beach Bretheren Christian HS, had season-bests in 2000 of 17-4.50/16-10.75i. As a sophomore in 1999, he qualified for the NCAA Outdoor (personal-best 17-7, No. 9 in school history) and placed 15th at the NCAA Indoor. Harrison, from Alpharetta, GA Roswell HS, had team-leading season-bests of 10.39w/10.45 and 20.75w (NCAA provisional)/20.94. At the 2000 Pac-10 meet, Harrison was sixth in the 100m and second in the 200m.
Moser, from Huntington Beach HS, last season placed 17th in the discus at the NCAA Outdoor and at the Pac-10, was third in the discus and ninth in the shot put. His personal-best 196-1 is No. 9 in school history.
Green, from Palmdale Littlerock HS, last fall had an outstanding cross country campaign. He placed in the Top 10 in all five of UCLA's regular-season meets, was eighth at the Pac-10 and 10th at the Western Regional, qualifying for the NCAA Championships. At the 2000 Pac-10 meet last spring, Green finished 10th (31:22.52, personal-best) in the 10,000m.
"These athletes have been in our program for a long time and have represented us well," said Venegas, who is entering his 20th season on the Bruin staff. "With our other experience returning, along with the newcomers, we are looking to make a step upward this season."
10 Pac-10 Scorers Return
Other veterans from the 2000 Pac-10 meet returning this year for the Bruins include - senior Paul Muite, a veteran cross country and distance performer who placed fifth in the 800m and 15th in the 5000m, senior Mason Moore, third (8:59.89, personal-best) in the 3000m steeplechase, sophomore Kyle Erickson, sixth in the 400m hurdles, sophomore Jared Drake and senior C. J. Bell were sixth and eighth in the pole vault, sophomore Josh Levy was 14th in the high jump, sophomores, Jack Clamon and Scott Wiegand were fourth and eighth in the shot put and Wiegand was 10th in the discus, and in the javelin, junior Joe Franklin was seventh and sophomore Nate Marum was 10th.
Redshirt freshmen for the Bruins from 2000 include thrower Dan Ames and hurdler Chuckie Ryan. Ames last summer at the U. S. Junior meet won the discus and placed second in the shot put, and at the World Juniors, he was ninth in the discus. Ames' personal-bests are 60-2 and 192-1, both No. 8 on last year's World Junior charts. Ryan placed fifth (14.17w) at the 2000 U. S. Junior championships in the 110m hurdles.
Nation's No. 4 Recruiting Class
UCLA's outstanding incoming recruiting class will be led by freshmen newcomers - pole vaulter Shane Hackett, sprinter Warren Rogers, hurdlers Anthony Golston and Trevor Jones and jumpers, Juane Armon, Oliver Jackson and Tony Ortiz. Hackett, from Verdugo Hills HS, last season as a senior prepster earned T & FN All-American honors, with a personal-best 16-4, set while winning the CA State championship. Rogers, from Gardena Serra HS, was the 2000 CA State 100m champ and as a junior in 1999 on the World Junior rankings, Rogers was No. 7 in the 100m (10.34, personal-best) and No. 10 in the 200m (20.88, personal-best). Golston, from San Diego Pt. Loma HS, as a junior in 1999 placed third in the CA State meet in the 300m hurdles (36.98, personal-best). Jones, from Newport Beach Newport Harbor HS, in 2000 earned T & FN prep All-American honors in the intermediate hurdles. At the at the 2000 CA State meet, Jones won the 300m hurdles and placed second in the 110m hurdles. His prep bests were 36.45 (No. 3 on the U. S. high list) and 52.02 (No. 5 on the prep charts). Armon, from San Jose Archbishop Mitty, was sixth at the CA State meet in the long jump (his personal-best is 23-10) and Jackson, from Simi Valley Royal HS, was the CA State and Master's long jump champion (his personal-best, 24-5.75 was No. 9 on the U. S. prep list). Ortiz, from La Mesa Helix HS, at last spring's CA State meet was second in the triple jump and eighth in the long jump. Ortiz's personal-best 49-3 in the triple jump was No. 17 on the U. S. prep list.
UCLA's other top recruits include sprinters, freshman Rodney Diggs (21.7/48.9), junior college transfer Michael Lipscomb (JC bests of 10.40/21.03, prep bests of 10.71/21.33) and freshman Denye Versher (21.7/48.3).
"Recruiting was our No. 1 priority going into this season," said Venegas, who has coached UCLA men's and women's throwers to 29 NCAA titles since 1981. "This class gives us quality and depth on the track and in the field. We wanted to make a statement with this incoming recruiting class. I'm expecting these newcomers to help us in team improvement from a year ago.
"With the recruiting class, we are looking to make a dramatic improvement in our 4 X 100m relay and have also laid the foundation for steady progress in the 4 X 400m relay"
Losses From Last Season
The Bruins will have to overcome the loss of 800m standout Jess Strutzel. A senior last season, Strutzel, who holds the school indoor (1:46.48) and outdoor (1:45.81) records, won the 2000 NCAA Indoor title and at the 1999 NCAA Indoor, ran on UCLA's winning and American indoor record-setting distance medley relay (9:33.17). Other Bruin losses from last season are - pole vaulter Brian McLaughlin, who placed fourth at the 2000 NCAA Indoor (18-0.50, only the fourth Bruin in history to vault over 18-feet), Michael Granville, the 2000 Pac-10 400m champion and Dan Brecht, fourth in the 3000m steeplechase at the Pac-10.