Aug. 5, 2005
UCLA's women's program will send six alumni, the largest alumni contingent of any university in the nation, to the 2005 World Outdoor Track & Field Championships, held Aug. 6-14 in Helsinki, Finland.
Recent senior Monique Henderson (400m) and Bruin greats - Joanna Hayes and Michelle Perry in the 100m hurdles, Amy Acuff in the high jump, Tracy O'Hara in the pole vault and Seilala Sua in the discus - will all be competing in Helsinki for the USA squad.
Henderson is coached by UCLA women's head coach Jeanette Bolden and Bruin volunteer Bob Kersee. Kersee, one of the world's top track and field coaches, also tutors Hayes and Perry and is on the U. S. women's coaching staff in Helsinki. O'Hara is coached by Bruin vault mentor Anthony Curran and Sua is coached by UCLA men's head coach Art Venegas.
(Name, Event -Q=qualifying; SF=semifinals; F=final/Quotes provided by USA T & F)
-Amy Acuff, high jump (Saturday Q/Monday F) - a five-time USA champion, she won this summer's U. S. title, with a leap of 6-2.75. A three-time Olympian, during her UCLA career (1994-97), Acuff won five NCAA indoor and outdoor championships.
-Monique Henderson, 400m (Sunday Q/Monday SF/Wednesday F) - the UCLA senior, an Olympic gold medalist in the 1,600-meter relay at the 2004 Games in Athens, won the Honda Award as the nation's top women's college track and field athlete. She won her first NCAA individual title in the 400 meters on June 11 in Sacramento with a personal-best time of 50.10 seconds. Her mark set a collegiate in-season record, an NCAA meet record, a Pac-10 record and broke her own UCLA record. Henderson, who earlier in the season became only the second woman to repeat as a Pac-10 champion in both the 400 and 200, was an eight-time All-American in her college career. On June 25, the two-time Olympian earned her first individual berth on a U.S. national team when she placed third in the 400m at the U.S. Track and Field Championships, held at the Home Depot Center in Carson. She dipped under the 50-second barrier for the first time with a mark of 49.96. Henderson was recently named by T & F News as the Women's Collegiate T & F Athlete of the Year. She's the third Bruin women's athlete to earn the honor - joining hurdler Sheena Johnson (2004) and thrower Seilala Sua (2000).
-Seilala Sua, discus (Sunday Q/Tuesday F) - at this summer's U. S. Championships, Sua, a four-time U. S. champion, placed second (202-10). During her Bruin career (1997-2000), she became the winningest NCAA Outdoor individual champion (six shot put and discus titles), including four consecutive discus championships. In her collegiate career, Sua won a combined seven NCAA indoor and outdoor individual titles. She is a two-time Olympian.
-Tracy O'Hara, pole vault (Sunday Q/Wednesday F) - at this summer's U. S. Championships, O'Hara finished second (14-5.25). During her Bruin career (1999-2002) she won three NCAA Indoor and Outdoor titles. -Joanna Hayes, 100m hurdles (Tuesday Q/Wednesday SF/Thursday F) - the gold medal winner in the event at the 2004 Athens Olympics, Hayes placed second (to Perry) at last June's U. S. Championships, in a time of 12.77 (-0.7w). As a Bruin (1996-99), Hayes won the 400m hurdles at the 1999 NCAA Outdoor.
"Michelle and I have trained together for about eight years. When you have that, you know what's she's doing in practice. You don't wonder how she's training, you know how she's training now. You can see it. You know what they are prepared to do. You might make the mistake of thinking about that person too much. Once you're on that track, it's one lane per person. Every person in every lane is running for themselves. I know Michelle is prepared. She knows I'm prepared. I'll focus on me and she'll focus on her. Hopefully, we'll go 1-2 and bring some medals home for the U. S."
-Michelle Perry, 100m hurdles (Tuesday Q/Wednesday SF/Thursday F) - Perry is having an outstanding 2005 Outdoor season. At June's U. S. Championships, she won the event (beating teammate Hayes), in a time of 12.66 (-0.7w). She's run four of the top five times in the World this season, including a world-leading 12.43. An all-around talented athlete, Perry is also one of the nation's top heptathletes, who competed for the U. S. at the 2004 Summer Olympics. As a Bruin senior at the 2001 NCAA Outdoor, she placed second in the heptathlon (5,759), seventh in the 400m hurdles (59.64) and ran the opening leg on UCLA's 4X400m relay (fifth-place, 3:36.09).
"I think the biggest difference for me this year is no heptathlon. Around the time of the New York meet, we stopped training for the heptathlon and we've found a balance this year. Last year, Coach Kersee placed a special emphasis on the heptathlon and me making the U. S. team in the hept. This year, he gave me free reign of what I wanted to do, and people that know me know that the hurdles are my favorite event. In New York, we decided to back off of the heptathlon, so I wasn't spending time with the javelin or shot, which kind of locked up my back. After New York, I decided to go full force in the hurdles and things took off for me.
"It wasn't a shock to me. Most people in the world are shocked, but it is not a shock to me because I know what I can do in practice. Because I wasn't able to spend great amounts of time on the hurdles, it made a huge difference once I was able to step away from the heptathlon for awhile and give 100% energy to the hurdles. I knew that's what it would take to get to an elite level in that event. I knew in my heart from day one that I could do amazing things in the hurdles. I've always believed that. Now I have the opportunity to prove that to the world."
Candice Baucham, who placed second (45-11.25, 0.5w) in the triple jump at the 2005 USA Championships, did not make the U. S. team because she was not able to make the qualifying A Standard (the top three placements at the U. S. meet were eligible for the U. S. World Championship squad, only if an A Stanford had been met). Baucham's best mark this outdoor season was 46-2, her American collegiate record winning effort at the 2005 NCAA Outdoor. The A Standard in the triple jump is 46-11.
There will be two Bruin men alumni competing, John Godina in the shot put (qualifying and the final are Saturday) and Meb Keflezighi in the 10,000m (Monday). Godina is a three-time World Champion. Keflezighi at the 2004 Summer Olympics won the silver medal in the marathon (he's also the U. S. record-holder in the 10,000m/27:13.98).
PAX (check local listings) will televise the World Championships, a U. S. webcast will be available at www.wcsn.com and daily updates and results can be viewed at www.usatf.org.