Track & Field Ready To Battle For Top Spots At NCAA Championships
June 9, 2008
The No. 6 men and No. 9 women's team will begin competition at the 2008 NCAA Outdoor Championships in Des Moines, IA on Wednesday with the goal of a top national team finish. Both squads have several athletes ranked in the top-10 in their respective events and many who are poised to win NCAA individual crowns.
The men's team will have 13 athletes competing, while the women will have nine, plus a 4x400m relay. Last season, the Bruin women placed fifth and the men's team was ninth. This year, both teams will vie for a top-three team finish as each squad boasts a very competitive and talented group of athletes.
The women's team has two reigning NCAA individual winners in Nicole Leach (400m hurdles) and Rhonda Watkins (long jump) as both will look to defend their respective crowns. The 4x400m relay has come on strong in recent weeks and could vie for the top spot come Saturday. Freshman Tori Anthony, the pre-season favorite to win the vault crown, is returning to her mid-season form after having suffered with mononucleosis during the last month and a half and will be in the hunt for the title and the second All-American honor of her career. Fellow vaulters Katy Viuf and Tori Pena have had phenomenal meets in recent weeks and will also be contenders for All-American honors.
In the horizontal jumps, senior Renee Williams will attempt to earn double All-America honors as she competes in both the long and triple. Senior Keneisha Creary and Allie Miller will compete in the high jump as Creary looks to be a probable All-American, as well.
Sophomore Krishna Curry has had a stellar sophomore campaign in the 800m, dropping her lifetime-best in the two-lap event in almost every race during the last month and a half and could be a breakout performer for the Bruins.
In the sprints, senior Jolanda Diego leads the way as a double-event qualifier in the 100m and 200m. Freshman Lindsay Rowe is coming off of a lifetime-best performance at regionals and will gain valuable experience during the meet.
On the men's side, the field event athletes lead the way highlighted by two-time All-American Greg Garza. Garza is ranked second in the nation and was the pre-season favorite to win the discus crown. Fellow indoor All-Americans John Caulfield and Darius Savage will look to score in the discus as well as the shot put to add to their national status. Junior Boldizsar Kocsor is having a career year after winning his second Pac-10 hammer crown and breaking the school record, and is ready to finish in the top-eight this week. Freshman Bo Taylor also joins the large throws squad as he competes in the discus.
Junior Dustin DeLeo, the No. 2 vaulter in the nation, and freshman Johnny Quinn should pick up big points for the Bruins in the vault as both have the ability to score. Freshman jumpers Jonathan Clark (triple) and Taylor Hobson (high) will look to gain experience during the meet and possibly sneak into a scoring position for the Bruins.
On the track, junior Kevin Craddock leads the way as he will vie for the high hurdles crown. Craddock has the No. 4 time in the nation this season and is coming off of wins at the Pac-10 and West Region Championships. Freshman Cory Primm is having a strong first campaign with the Bruins, and along with junior Laef Barnes, this distance duo could pick up some big points for UCLA in the team competition. Senior Henry Hagenbuch has been impressive in the steeple after finishing in the runner-up position at Pac-10's and West Region, and will battle for All-American honors during the meet.
Events get underway on Wednesday and run through Saturday. CBS College Sports Network (formerly CSTV) will be airing live coverage of the NCAA Track and Field Championships on Friday, June 13th from 7-10 p.m. CST. CBS will also broadcast live coverage of the final day of competition from 3-5 p.m. CST.
Below is a list of UCLA athletes competing at Nationals, along with their rank and top mark heading into the meet.
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