April 9, 2008
The UCLA track and field teams will welcome over 1300 athletes and 30 schools, as well as numerous track clubs and world class competitors this Thursday through Saturday as they host the Rafer Johnson/Jackie Joyner-Kersee Invitational at Drake Stadium. The three day meet features a heptathlon/decathlon competition, distance carnival and open and invitational events.
The men's team, ranked No. 3 in the latest USTFCCCA polls will host the No. 1 team in the country, Texas A&M. The Aggies No. 3 women's team will also be in attendance as well as the No. 20 men's and No. 23 women's Washington State teams. A few other teams in attendance include Cal Poly SLO, Arkansas State and Utah State. The HIS club team will also be competing this weekend as well as many of world-renowned track coach Bobby Kersee's athletes.
The men's 100m will open up the decathlon competition at 9:45 am on Thursday, while the heptathlon gets underway at 10:15 am with the high hurdles. The hammer will be contested on Thursday beginning at 4:00 pm with the women's competition, followed directly after by the men. On Friday, events get underway at 9:00 am with the sixth event of the decathlon, the 110m hurdles. The heptathlon long jump will begin at 10:00 am. Open field events will start at 1:00 pm with the women's shot put, while running event start at 2:00 pm with the women's high hurdles. The distance carnival will get underway at 6:00 pm with the women's steeplechase.
Saturday's invitational section of the meet will start at 10:45am in the field with the men's high jump. Running events will start at 12:15 pm with the women's 4x100m relay.
This year's meet looks to be the biggest and best in invitational history as some of the top collegiate and world performers will be competing. Below is a list of events and athletes to watch during the three day meet.
Hammer - The women's hammer competition will feature five of the top throwers in the U.S. on the women's side in what is shaping up to be a pre-Olympic Trials showdown. Former Bruins and All-Americans Jessica Cosby (222-0) and Cari Soong (216-3) will open up the 2008 season on Thursday. Former Colorado State star Loree Smith (223-1), former Cornhusker Melissa (Price) Myerscough (217-1) and former Oregon Duck Brittany Hinchcliffe (216-6) will also throw on Thursday. In the men's hammer, current Bruin and No. 3 collegiate thrower in the country, Boldizsar Kocsor (222-6) will face former Cal State Bakersfield NCAA Div. II champion Arnaldo Cueto (219-5).
Shot Put - In the women's shot, former Azusa Pacific NAIA champion Vivian Chukwuemeka of Nigeria (59-10) will be in action. The men's competition features former Nebraskan and World Championship competitor Carl Myerscough (66-10) and All-American Bruin John Caulfield (62-7).
Discus - The men's disc will feature All-Americans Greg Garza (201-10) and John Caulfield (197-10) as both will look to move up in the National rankings. The women's disc features former Cal State Bakersfield star Cecelia Barnes (197-5).
Long Jump - UCLA NCAA champion Rhonda Watkins (20-10) will look to take the No. 1 spot on the collegiate list this weekend as she battles Candyce Babb (20-7) and Texas A&M's Ashika Sharan (20-6).
High Jump - Watkins will open up in the high jump on Saturday as she faces Solange Witteveen, who comes to the meet with a top mark of 6-5.
Pole Vault - This will be one of the premier events of the meet as several standout athletes will be competing. Former Trojan Denis Kholev (18-7) and Mexican National Record holder Robison Pratt (18-8), along with former Bruin All-American Mike Landers (18-0) will be in action. Six current Bruins will also be vaulting with four having top marks over 17-feet. The women's competition features former Bruin and NCAA champion/record holder (15-1) Chelsea Johnson and five current Bruin women highlighted by All-American Ingrid Kantola (13-5) and the U.S. prep record holder Tori Anthony (13-7).
Triple Jump - The women's triple features three athletes over 42-feet, highlighted by Blessing Ufodiama (43-5). Texas A&M's Yasmine Regis (42-11) and Angela Thomas (42-8) will also be competing in the invite section. The men's triple features three men over 52-feet - Texas A&M's Tyron Stewart (52-9) and Zuheir Sharif (52-9), and former Long Beach State All-American (52-7).
Javelin - Former Trojan and NCAA champion Inga Stasiulionyte of Lithuania (204-3) highlights the women's field, while former Cal Poly SLO All-American Aris Borjas (236-5) highlights the men's field.
110m Hurdles - Dominque DeGrammont (13.59) highlights the men's field.
100m - The women's race will be quite competitive as Texas A&M's Simone Facey (11.16) leads the field of collegiate and professional athletes. Tonette Dyer (11.20) and Melinda Smedley (11.27) of Sheffield Elite will also run in the invite section. On the men's side, Mickey Grimes (10.04), Chris Williams (10.12) and Texas A&M's Gerald Phiri (10.20) are the athletes to watch.
400m - The women's 400m features four women under 53 seconds - Sheena Tosta (52.31), Jessica Beard of Texas A&M (52.48), Ahndraea Allen (52.77) and Deanna Goodwin (52.92). The men's race features Tyree Washington (44.70), Joel Stallworth (45.40) and Ken Ferguson of HSI (45.90).
400m Hurdles - Former Trojan Ryan Wilson leads the field with a top time of 48.50. College's number one intermediate hurdler, Jeshua Anderson of Washington State (49.68) and former Bruin Kyle Erickson (49.36) are also athletes to watch.
200m - The women's race features four women under 23 seconds highlighted by Tonette Dyer (22.34). Texas A&M's Simone Facey (22.49) and Porscha Lucas (22.79), along with former NCAA champion and Olympic Gold medalist Monique Henderson (22.89) will also be in action. The men's race features a very strong contingent of speed as HSI's Kelly Willie leads the field with a top mark of 20.12.
Relays - The highlight of the track events could come in the relays as several of the world's best will be in action. Teams comprised of Bobby Kersee-coached athletes will be running highlighted by Allyson Felix, Brandon Johnson, Shawn Crawford and Kerron Clement. HSI will also field 4x400m relay teams.
Mile - A special men's mile will be contested as current Bruin Laef Barnes will look to break the four-minute barrier (4:01).
The Bruins will have three competitors in the heptathlon - Hillary Werth, Georgea Richards and Keneisha Creary, and one decathlete competitor - Matt Reuter. It will be the first multi-event competition of the outdoor season for all four athletes.
So far this season, UCLA has picked up 19 regional qualifiers on the men's side and 10 qualifiers on the women's side. Several of those athletes rank amongst the 10 best in the country in their event groups. Those athletes are - Laef Barnes, fifth in the mile (3:44.62); Henry Hagenbuch, fifth in the steeple (8:52.14); Daniel Kirkpatrick (6-10.75) and Taylor Hobson (6-10.75), tied for ninth in the country in the high jump; Dustin DeLeo (17-00.75), Johnny Quinn (17-00.75) and Chris Bencomo (17-00.75), tied for sixth in the pole vault; John Caulfield, fourth in the shot put (62-7.25) and sixth in the discus (197-10); Darius Savage, ninth in the shot put (59-9.75); Greg Garza, second in the discus (201-10); Boldizsar Kocsor, third in the hammer (222-6); Tori Anthony, tied for fourth in the pole vault (13-7.75); Ingrid Kantola, tied for fifth in the pole vault (13-5.25); and Rhonda Watkins, fourth in the long jump (20-11.75).
Junior Kevin Craddock will make his debut in the high hurdles on Friday after nearly a year of layoff. Craddock missed most of the offseason as he recovered from ankle surgery and has only competed in one 400m hurdles race this season at the Cal/Nevada Championships.
Freshman Ke'Nyia Richardson will not compete until possibly the UCLA/USC Dual meet as she continues to recover from a leg injury sustained during the indoor season.
Two-sport athlete Darius Savage will take a break from the football field to compete in Friday's open sections of the shot put and discus. Although he would normally be entered in the invite portion of the meet, the football team has spring practice on Saturday and has obligations to be with the team. Friday is an off day from football, thus allowing him to compete in the meet.
Micellaneous Notes All-American distance runner Allie Bohannon will no longer compete for UCLA. Bohannon had several off season surgeries to repair an injury she sustained at the 2007 Pac-10 Championships and has not completely recovered yet. Although she has an extra year of eligibility, Bohannon has decided to graduate in June and turn her focus to pursuing a degree in Law. She ends her UCLA career with top times of 2:07.07 in the 800m, 4:22.30 in the 1500m and 4:41.42 in the mile. In 2007, Bohannon earned All-American honors at the NCAA Indoor meet after placing second with a lifetime-best run of 4:41.42. Bohannon was also UCLA's No. 1 cross country runner and MVP during the 2006 season.
Freshman Nevin Gutteriez injured his left hamstring earlier in the week and will miss the remainder of the season. He will apply for a redshirt year and return to run for UCLA in 2009.
Distance runner Michael Cybulski has been released from his scholarship. He is currently still enrolled at UCLA, but plans on transferring to another school to continue his college career. Cybulski did not compete in a cross country competition or meet during his time at UCLA.