LOS ANGELES – The UCLA track and field team will open the 2014 indoor season at the NAU Invitational. The two-day event is scheduled to start on Friday, January 24 at the J. Lawrence Walkup Skydome. Field events will begin at 4 p.m., with the track events slated to begin at 5 p.m.
“We have been in training for what seems to be forever,” UCLA director of track and field Mike Maynard said. “It's nice to finally get into competition season. While we have had to become creative with our training, due to the construction of the new track, I believe that we are ready to kick off the season.”
UCLA will be competing against host NAU, Arizona State, Cal St. Bakersfield, Southern Utah and Grand Canyon University. Also competing at the meet will be a host of running clubs such as Northern Arizona Elite, Team Run Flag and the Qatar national team. The Qatar national team's top athletes are Samuel Francis, Asian record holder in the 100m, and Femi Ogunode, 2010 200m and 400m Asian Games Champion.
The Bruins will not be sending their sprinters and hurdlers to the season opening meet as the resurfacing of the track at Drake Stadium has hindered their early season preparations.
“Our sprinters and hurdlers have been impacted the most by the placement of the new surfacing,” Maynard said. “They haven't yet been able to do any type of speed work. As a result we will hold them out of this competition and plan to open them up the following week at New Mexico.”
On the men’s side, indoor All-Americans Marcus Nilsson (heptathlon) and Michael Woepse (pole vault) return for UCLA. Nilsson placed 15th at the NCAA championships in 2013 and was an outdoor All-American in the decathlon by placing third at the NCAA meet. Woepse cleared 18-0.50 to finish seventh at the NCAA indoor championships last year. He holds the third best mark in school history with a vault of 18-4.50.
On the women’s side Brea Buchanan earned All-American honors and returns with All-American Kylie Price. Buchanan placed fifth at the NCAA indoor championships last season with an 8.16 in the 60m hurdles. Price jumped her way to All-American honors last season by placing seventh with a leap of 21-1.50.
The team will be split next weekend as the Bruins head to the New Mexico Team Invitational and the UW Invitational. Albuquerque will serve as the site host site for the NCAA Indoor Championships while the UW Invitational will be held in Seattle, Wash.