April 27, 2006
The UCLA track and field teams will take on the USC Trojans on Friday and Saturday, April 28-29 for the annual dual meet showdown at Drake Stadium. The Bruin women have won the past 13 consecutive dual meet crowns, while the men are on a four meet winning streak. Last season, the women defeated USC 85-78 and the men won 83-80.
Competition begins on Friday afternoon with the women's hammer throw at 3:00 pm. The men's hammer will directly follow the conclusion of the women's competition. On Saturday, field events begin at 11:00 am with the women's javelin, while running events start at 11:55 am with the women's 5,000m.
For the first time in 27 years, the meet will be broadcast live on television. Fox Sports Prime Ticket will begin televising the meet at 1:00 pm with the 4x100m relays and will go off the air at 4:30 pm.
Art Venegas' men have won the last four dual meet battles and this year looks to be as close as ever. Although the Bruins are without one of the premier 400m hurdlers in the nation, Brandon Johnson, there are plenty of athletes on the team ready to step up and make the win happen.
"This is going to be an exciting meet where athletes go beyond their event and bring their "A" game," said Venegas. "They are really going to put a show on for the crowd and their team. Everything changes in a scored meet and although individual events are exciting, there is nothing that beats two teams going head-to-head."
Senior Craig Everhart will lead the sprint corps into Saturday's competition having notched the No. 9 400m time in the nation (45.92). Along with his signature event, Everhart will race in the 200m and the relays. Freshman Kevin Craddock will lead the Bruin hurdlers after hitting his stride in his signature 110m hurdles (14.01).
In the distances, senior Erik Emilsson will not compete in his main event, the steeplechase, as he will instead run the 800m (1:50.58), 1500m (3:45.38) and 5000m (14:48.98). Sophomore Austin Ramos will compete in both the 1500m (3:47.66) and 5000m (first time this season), while senior Martell Munguia will run the 800m (1:49.91) and 1500m (3:46.74).
In the jumps, a trio of triple jumpers lead the way - senior Demetre Howard and sophomores Michael Johnson and Dominique Easterling. Johnson currently ranks 15th in the nation in the triple (51-7.75) as all three have consistently jumped in the low 50's. In the long jump, sophomore Joel Tuosto will lead the way with a top mark of 24-9.
Junior Mike Landers will lead a trio of pole vaulters as he currently ranks No. 11 in the nation in the vault (17-8.50).
In the throws, several Bruins will help contribute to a possible dual meet win. In the discus, three athletes have thrown over 180-feet this season - junior Jason Rider (182-10) and sophomores John Caulfield (185-9) and Greg Garza (185-10). A trio of throwers have also surpassed 60-feet in the shot as Caulfield leads the way with a throw of 63-8.25. Seniors Jake Knight (61-3) and Jeremy Silverman (60-3) will also contribute. In the hammer, freshman Boldizsar Kocsor will look to again break his freshman record (205-1) in Friday's competition.
Jeanette Bolden's UCLA women have never lost a dual meet under her time as head coach and although this year will be close, the streak looks to continue. The No. 11 Bruin women have a strong and talented team and they are ready to step up and win this weekend.
"It is a great honor to have this meet televised because it is a fantastic event," said Bolden. "Competing in this meet is something you will always take with you and remember and it's exciting. It's also basically the start of our season and we are just happy to get it going."
Senior Dawn Harper, a six-time All-American, will open up her season in the 100m hurdles on Saturday. Last year, Harper finished third at the NCAA Championships and at the 2006 Indoor Championships, also finished third in the 60m hurdles.
Freshman Nicole Leach, the No. 5 ranked 400m hurdler (56.89) and No. 12 ranked 400m runner (52.92) in the nation, will lead the young sprinters into the meet, competing in those two events along with the 200m and relays.
Senior Chelsea Johnson will lead the vaulters into competition as she continues to hold the No. 2 mark in the nation (14-8.25). Johnson hopes to regain her NCAA record (broke last weekend by Florida State's Lacy Janson, 15-0.25) as well as win the event.
UCLA will have several jumpers looking to shine this weekend, highlighted by sophomore Renee Williams in both the long (20-5) and triple jump (41-9.75). Senior Caroline Sommers and freshman Rhonda Watkins will highlight the high jump competition as both have achieved marks of 5-10.75 this season.
In the throws, UCLA will have no hammer throwers, but junior Kamaiya Warren will battle for the shot put (55-3) and discus titles (168-0).
In the distances, junior Ashley Caldwell will lead the way, running in three events - 800m (2:11.82), 1500m (3:22.05) and 5000m (17:00.21). Senior Leslie Barrie will look to improve on her best in the steeple (10:33.48) and hopefully break the school record (10:31.34).