Nov. 15, 2012
The #22-ranked Bruins will fight for a national championship this Saturday, November 17, at the E.P. Tom Sawyer State Golf Course located in Louisville, Kentucky.
The men received one of thirteen at-large bids to this weekend's 10,000m-championship race after an impressive showing at last week's NCAA West Regional, where they placed third in the team category. Only the two top finishers from each region are guaranteed automatic qualifying bids to the NCAA Championships, but the selection committee decided to award UCLA with an invitation to fight for the team title a day later.
"Coach Braden has done a great job coaching and developing this entire team. It's exciting to see them have an opportunity to compete at the NCAA's," said Mike Maynard, Director of Track and Field / Cross Country. "They are each truly talented and although they have already been very successful thus far in the season, I believe that they have much more to show as a team."
Last Saturday's result was a culmination of a remarkable regular season for the Bruins, who have only finished outside the top five once all season. They opened the season with a victory in the Nevada Chase and haven't looked back since. Interestingly enough, one of their most impressive showings was their tenth place finish at the Wisconsin adidas Invitational. The race in Madison featured 45 of the nation's top teams, many of which the Bruins will see again this weekend. 21 of the field's 45 competitors have advanced to the NCAA championships, so that meet was truly one of the sqaud's biggest accomplishments. More importantly, it bodes well for a Bruins team that has continued to excel and exceed expectations week in and week out.
"I love the tight knit team attitude of this group," added Maynard. "They have always trained as a pack, and have begun to run as a pack as well. This Bruin team is young, and has an opportunity to become one of the best cross teams ever at UCLA."
Sophomore Lane Werley has led the way for the Bruins this season, and has been an absolute force on the course. The Riverside native has been the team's top runner in every meet he has competed in this season, including three, fifth place finishes and a 30th place result in Madison. Twice, he has finished within striking distance of last year's NCAA individual champion Lawi Lalang of Arizona. Clearly, he has found his groove on the course and is setting the pace for the Bruins squad.
Werley will be joined Saturday by David McDonald, Dustin Fay, Nohe Lema, Sergey Sushchikh, Daniel Herrera, Chase Zukerman and Jacob Wood. This has been, for the most part, the core of this year's team and they have learned to run together to better compete in the team category. Distance coach Forest Braden has been impressed with the toughness and effort his team has displayed this season.
"I am proud of these guys for the resiliency and toughness they have displayed all season," said Braden. "This team is comprised of terrific people, students and obviously athletes and I could not be happier to have the opportunity to coach this squad one more time this season.
"The guys are ready to make a statement on Saturday and will run with the same level of pride and toughness that they have exhibited all season. We relish the opportunity to race the best and see how good we can be."
The University of Louisville will host the Championships, Saturday, Nov. 17, at E.P. Tom Sawyer State Park, located in Louisville, Kentucky. The men's race will begin at approximately 10:15 am Pacific time. A live webcast of the championships will be broadcast from 9 am to 10:30 am Pacific time, on NCAA.com.