May 24, 2005
The No. 15 UCLA Bruins will head to Eugene, OR this weekend (Friday-Saturday) for the third installment of the West Region Championships. The Bruins won the inaugural championships in 2003, as well as last year's title, and will look to pick up their third Regional Championship this weekend.
At last year's meet, the Bruins captured five individual victories, led by then senior co-captain Dan Ames, who won the shot put, discus and hammer titles. Then sophomore Craig Everhart (400m) and then freshman Brandon Johnson (400m hurdles) also captured individual championships at the regional meet.
This year, UCLA will have several individuals vying for a title, as well as a spot at the NCAA Outdoor Championships, hosted by Sacramento State, June 8-11. The top-five finishers in each event, along with the top-three relay teams will automatically advance to the NCAA meet. Seven to eight at-large spots will be given to the 6th-8th place finishers at the regional meets. This is different from last year's criteria which saw the at-large spots given to those with top times on the national list who might have had an off competition at regionals. Only athletes who fininish in the top-eight at the regional meets will advanced to the NCAA Championships, creating an exciting all-or-nothing meet where only the best will move on.
Senior Jon Rankin will lead the Bruins as he goes for the 800m/1500m double this weekend. Rankin currently holds the fastest time in the 800m (1:47.11) and the second-fastest time in the 1500m (3:40.39), and has become one of the best middle distance runners in UCLA history. At Pac-10 Rankin narrowly missed completing the 800m/1500m after Washington's Ryan Brown beat him to the tape in an incredibly close race. Rankin did run away with the 1500m title though, winning in a time of 3:44.61.
Junior Erik Emilsson will vie for a title in the steeplechase as he comes into the meet with the second-fastest time (8:40.40). Senior Ben Aragon will compete solely in the 1500m (3:44.29), while junior Martell Munguia will run the 800m (1:48,14) and freshman Austin Ramos will run in the 5000m (14:15.61).
Everhart will return in the 400m to defend his 2004 title, as well as run on the fourth-seeded 4x400m relay team (3:04.11). In the 400m, Everhart has the third-fastest time in that event (45.87). Sophomore Johnson, the top-seeded 400m hurdler (49.18) will not do double duty this weekend in the 400m and 400mH, but will instead focus on his prime event, the hurdles, as he looks to defend his 2004 title.
Senior Jonathan Williams, who ran two lifetime-bests at the Pac-10 meet in the hurdles (110H-13.81, 400H-49.67) to finish second in each event, will run both in Eugene. Williams has the second-fastest time (to Johnson) in the 400mH and the third-fastest time in the 110mH).
The throwers will be well represented this weekend, with at least one athlete in each throwing event. Junior Jeremy Silverman and freshman John Caulfield will lead the Bruin throwers in Eugene, as both have a chance at the shot put title. Silverman comes into the meet with the third-farthest throw (63-11), while Caulfield has the seventh-farthest mark (62-1.75). At Pac-10, Caulfield earned All-Pac-10 honors with his third-place finish n the shot put. Junior Jake Knight will also compete in the shot put (61-4) in Eugene.
Freshman Greg Garza will compete in the discus (185-4), along with Caulfield (179-3) junior Andrew Ninow will compete in the hammer (198-1), and senior Ely Dial will throw the javelin (210-0). At Pac-10 both Ninow and Dial threw lifetime-bests in their respective events and are poised for a good competition this weekend.
Jumps Senior Yoo Kim will lead the jumpers into Eugene after winning his first Pac-10 pole vault title (17-9, season-best) two weeks ago. Oregon's Tommy Skipper is again the favorite, but after no-heighting at Pac-10, momentum could be on Kim's side for a Bruin victory. Junior Dave Murphy will also compete in the pole vault (17-0.75), along with freshman Dustin DeLeo (16-6.75).
In the triple jump, the Bruins will be well represented as three athletes will compete in that event. At Pac-10, each member of this trio surpassed the 50-foot mark, giving each athlete a lifetime-best in the triple jump. Freshman Michael Johnson will lead the trio in Eugene with the eighth-best mark (51-3.50). Junior Demetre Howard (51-0.75) and freshman Dominique Easterling (50-8) will also look to score points for UCLA and improve on their marks.