UCLA has a proud Track and Field history. For years, both the Men's and Women's Track teams were consistently among the best in the conference. But the last ten years have not been kind to the program.
The team has failed to win either a Men's or Women's conference championship since 2004 when the women claimed their last conference title.
That isn't to say that there haven't been excellent individual performers. There have been. But, the teams, as a whole, have not done well recently compared to the other teams in the Pac-12.
This year's teams were not successful at claiming a conference championship either. By earning a fourth place finish, the Men's team showed significant improvement over last year when they placed seventh.
The Women's team finished tied for 5th with 64 points. Compared to last year, I'd consider this year's performance relatively flat. Last year, the women's team finished 6th but they scored 68 points. So, while this year's team finished in a higher place, scoring fewer points and, only finishing 1 point out of 7th place takes away from the slight improvement in team rank.
When you consider that UCLA hosted the Conference Championships this year, you would have expected the team to fare better at home.
Considering the continued malaise of the overall team performances, one has to wonder if, after three mediocre seasons, Mike Maynard's days in Westwood are numbered as the teams haven't made the strides towards winning a conference championship that should be expected from any Bruins coach.
But, in looking at how UCLA performed at the Conference Championships, we also need to look at the individual performances.
In that respect, no Bruins shined brighter than Ida Storm, Zibby Boyer and Nicholas Scarvelis. According to UCLABruins.com, Storm took the lead in the hammer throw on her 5th attempt with her season-best throw of 215' even and that was enough to defeat Oregon's Jillian Weir by 5 feet. Boyer won the Women's High Jump in a jump off over Oregon's Lauren Crocket after both women initially tied with jumps of 1.82 meters. Sophomore Nicholas Scarvelis blew away the competition with a throw of 19.64 meters.
Four other Bruins placed second in their events. Freshman Braheme Days finished second in the shot put with a throw of 19.35 meters behind only Scarvelis. Meanwhile, Senior Derek Eager was second in the Javelin, after throwing 71.26 meters. Torie Owens helped prove that the strength of this year's team is in the throws by finishing second in the Women's Shot Put.
Last but not least, Tatum Souza finished second in the Heptathlon.
Four other Bruins performed well enough to place in the top three in their events. Redshirt Sophomore Cody Crampton finished third in the high jump with a jump of 7' 1", his season best while Junior Nick Hartle placed third in the 800m with a time of 1:47:80. Alec Faldermeyer's throw of 63.75 meters earned him the third spot in the Men's Hammer while Marcus Nilsson placed third in the Decathlon.
Those were the eleven Bruins to finish in the top three in all 42 events (21 Men & 21 Women). To me, it doesn't seem like the program is on the right track. After having Mike Maynard leading the men for 7 years and the women for the last 3 years, I would expect that the results would better reflect UCLA's proud Track & Field tradition.
These results just don't show the sort of improvement one should expect after having Maynard in charge for that long.
It's time to bring in someone who can restore UCLA's tradition of Track & Field excellence.
Correction: This article was corrected to include the names of the student-athletes who were inadvertantly omitted initially. Bruins Nation apologizes to those individuals for initially omitting their names.