2002 UCLA Women's T & F Outlook

Feb. 10, 2002

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In 2002, Jeanette Bolden's UCLA women's track and field team will be vying for their third consecutive NCAA Indoor team title, sixth straight Pacific-10 Conference crown (seven in the last eight years) and the Bruins will once again be one of the nation's top outdoor squads in pursuit of the NCAA Outdoor team championship.

UCLA has won two NCAA Outdoor titles (1982-83) and in Bolden's eight years as the Bruin women's head coach, UCLA at the NCAA Outdoor has placed in the Top 3 on seven occasions, including four (2001-99-98-95) second-place finishes.

This season UCLA will be led by a solid and versatile senior class - Tracy O'Hara (pole vault), Ysanne Williams (middle distance/400m hurdles/relays), Heather Sickler (pole vault), Darnesha Griffith (high jump) and Bumni Ogunleye (400m/jumps/relays)

O'Hara Leads Senior Class
O'Hara is one of the top vaulters in the U. S. and will be a tri-captain on this season's Bruin squad. The collegiate outdoor record-holder (14-7.25), last season she placed second at both the NCAA Outdoor and Indoor meets, after winning both titles as a sophomore. A three-time Pac-10 champion, O'Hara last summer placed fourth at the USA Outdoor and was a member of the USA squad at the World Outdoor Championships and the World University Games. In its 2001 season-ending rankings, Track & Field News rated O'Hara as the No. 6 vaulter in the U. S.

Williams in 2001 earned All-American honors on three occasions, twice at the NCAA Outdoor (800m, 7th place, 4 X 400m relay, third leg, 5th place, 3:36.09, 3:30.54Q-No. 4 in school history) and at the NCAA Indoor (4 X 400m relay, third leg, 5th place, 3:35.27). Her career-best 2:05.23 in the 800m is No. 3 in school history and her personal-best 57.34 in the 400m hurdles is No. 8 on the UCLA chart. Williams is also a tri-captain for the Bruins in 2002.

Sickler last season earned All-American at the NCAA Outdoor by placing ninth (top eight Americans) in the pole vault. Her career-best 13-3.50 set last spring is No. 3 in school history. Along with O'Hara and Sickler, the Bruins return two other vaulters in 2002 who are also on the school's all-time chart (sophomore Gail Larsen, 12-9.50, No. 4 and junior Karen Bewley, 12-6, No. 5).

Griffith, with a personal-best 6-0.75 set in 2000 that is No. 4 in school history, at the 2001 NCAA Indoor earned All-American honors, placing fourth (tie). She's the 2000 Pac-10 high jump champion and is also No. 10 (40-0.50) on the Bruin all-time triple jump chart.

Ogunleye is one of the team's most versatile athletes. She earned 2001 NCAA Indoor All-American last winter, running the first leg on UCLA's 4 X 400m relay. As a junior in 2001, she ran a season-best 55.41 (400m, Pac-10 qualifier) and long-jumped a season-best 19-0.50 (Pac-10 qualifier).

'These seniors will be the core of our team,' said Bolden, who in 2001 was named the Pac-10 Women's T & F Coach of the Year for the fifth consecutive season and seventh time in her Bruin head coaching career. 'All have earned NCAA All-American honors and competed at the highest level, both internationally and collegiately. They will be our leaders.'

Joining the Bruin seniors will be some of the nation's elite collegiate track and field athletes, along with one of the top incoming recruiting classes in the nation.

Johnson, Ross, McKinnon
Returning for the Bruins will be nine athletes who scored at the 2001 Pac-10 meet, led by sophomores Sheena Johnson and Adia McKinnon, along with junior Chaniqua Ross. Johnson last spring was named the 2001 Pac-10 Newcomer of the Year. Last year, she earned NCAA Indoor (4 X 400m relay, second leg, fifth-place, 3:35.27) and Outdoor (4 X 400m relay, second leg) All-American honors. Her personal-best 56.02 400m hurdle mark (No. 4 in school history) was the top NCAA Outdoor qualifier (and No. 4 World Junior) and her 13.52 100m hurdle time is No. 10 in school history. At the 2001 Pac-10 Johnson won the 400m hurdles and ran the anchor leg on the Bruins' winning 4 X 400m relay (3:32.82), was fourth in the 100m hurdles and ran the second leg on the Bruins' 4 X 100m relay (second-place, 43.64, No. 3 in school history). At the 2001 U. S. Junior meet, Johnson won the 400m hurdles for the third time, in a meet record 56.24.

McKinnon last season also earned NCAA Indoor (4 X 400m relay, anchor) and Outdoor (4 X 400m relay, anchor) All-American. At the 2001 Pac-10, she won the 400m (52.69, personal-best, No. 10 in school history), ran the third leg on the Bruins' winning 4 X 400m relay, was fifth in the 200m and ran the third leg on UCLA's 4 X 100m relay.

Ross, a two-time NCAA Indoor All-American, in 2001 earned NCAA Outdoor honors by placing third in the discus and at the Pac-10, she won the discus title. At the 2001 U. S. Outdoor, Ross was seventh in the discus. T & FN ranked Ross as the No. 6 discus thrower in the U. S. A versatile athlete, Ross is listed on three Bruin career charts - No. 9 (183-9) in the discus, No. 8 (54-3.75) in the shot put and No. 6 (166-4) in the hammer throw. She is a tri-captain, joining O'Hara and Williams, for the Bruins this season.

'Sheena, Adia and Chaniqua are three of the nation's top athletes in their respective events,' said Bolden, who last season earned her sixth U. S. Track Coaches Association West Region Coach of the Year honor. 'They will combine with our returning seniors to form a solid leadership base for this year's team.'

Returning Pac-10 Scorers
Joining Johnson and McKinnon as Pac-10 scorers (on the track) from a year ago are - sophomore sprinters Sani Roseby and Nicole Gaskins, along with 800m performers, sophomore Lena Nilsson, junior Jessica Marr and junior Tiffany Burgess. In the field, joining Ross as a Bruin returning conference scorer is sophomore Lara Saye, who placed sixth in the discus. Another versatile thrower, Saye is also No. 7 (165-7) on the Bruin career hammer list.

Roseby in 2001 at the NCAA Outdoor qualified in the 100m and on the Bruins' 4 X 100m relay. At last spring's Pac-10, she placed fourth in the 100m, qualified in the 100m hurdles and ran the opening leg on UCLA's 4 X 100m relay. Her personal-best 13.40 in the 100m hurdles is No. 8 in school history and No. 10 World Junior.

Gaskins last season at the NCAA Outdoor was an alternate on both of UCLA's relays. At the Pac-10, she placed seventh in the 400m and qualified in the 200m .

The Bruins' 800m corps is among the best in the nation, with four runners ranked in the school's all-time Top 10. In 2001, Nilsson last season placed ninth at the NCAA Outdoor and third at the Pac-10. On Aug. 10 in Zurich, she ran a 2:05.13, No. 2 in school history. Also last season, Burgess qualified for the NCAA Outdoor, placed sixth at the Pac-10 and her 2:06.13 is No. 7 in school history. Marr placed fifth (2:06.83, personal-best, No. 10 in school history) at the Pac-10 and was an NCAA Outdoor provisional qualifier. Marr, Burgess and Nilsson last season at the Texas Relays also ran on UCLA's winning and school record-setting 4 X 800m relay (8:28.61).

Cosby, Soong
Also returning for UCLA in 2002 are two elite athletes who redshirted outdoors in 2001 - freshman Jessica Cosby and sophomore Cari Soong. In 2001, Cosby earned NCAA Indoor All-American by placing fifth (53-3) in the shot put. At the 2001 U. S. Junior meet, Cosby became the first female athlete in U. S. Junior history to win both the shot put (54-8.75, No. 7 in school history, No. 8 World Junior) and hammer throw (182-10, No. 5 in school history). T & FN rated Cosby as the No. 9 shot putter in the U. S.

Soong has earned two All-American honors. At the 2001 NCAA Indoor, she placed 10th (top eight Americans, 62-8 3/4) in the weight throw and at last summer's USA meet, she was 13th in the hammer throw. T & F N ranked Soong as the No. 9 hammer thrower in the U. S. As a true freshman in 2000 outdoors in the hammer, Soong was the U. S. Junior champion (194-10), earned All-American honors at the NCAA Outdoor (eighth, 197-7, No. 4 in school history) and placed fourth at the Pac-10.

Recruiting Class Rated No. 2 in U. S. by T & FN
Joining the returning Bruin veterans is a recruiting class rated No. 2 in the nation by T & FN. The class is led by sprinter Monique Henderson, the 2000 T & FN HS Athlete of the Year. From Morse HS in San Diego, Henderson earned two T & FN All-American honors in 2001, the national prep leader in the 400m (51.34, No. 1 world junior mark for second consecutive season, No. 8 in the U. S.) and in the 200m (her 23.16 was No. 3 on the U. S. prep chart last season, No. 7 World Junior and No. 12 in the U. S.). During her stellar prep career, Henderson won four consecutive CA State 400m titles and was an alternate on the U. S. 4 X 400m relay at the 2000 Olympic Games. Henderson's last two season-best 400m times were faster than the winning NCAA Outdoor marks (2001-Henderson 51.34/NCAA 52.33, 2000-Henderson 50.74, U. S. HS national record, No. 3 all-time World Junior/NCAA 51.14).

Joining Henderson are three other T & FN prep All-Americans - distance runner Alejandra Barrientos, jumper Candance Baucham and thrower Briona Reynolds. Barrientos has already made an impact as a UCLA runner, helping the Bruins last fall earn an at-large bid to the 2001 NCAA Cross Country Championships. Last spring as a senior prepster at San Lorenzo Valley HS in Felton, Barrientos earned T & FN All-American honors in the mile (4:44.89, No. 3 in the U. S.) and in her career she was the CA State 1600m champion in 2001 and 1999.

Baucham, from Long Beach Poly, in 2001 earned T & FN All-American honors in the triple jump (42-4.50, No. 4 in the U. S.). She won the CA State meet with a mark of 42-4.50 and at the US Juniors, Baucham placed second in the triple jump and third in the long jump (19-8.25, personal-best). She also was a member of the 2001 U. S. Junior team that last summer traveled to Europe.

Reynolds, from Red River HS in Grand Forks, ND, last season earned T & FN All-American honors in both the shot put (50-1.50, No. 4 in the U. S.) and discus (169-7, No. 1 in the U. S.). At the U. S. Junior meet, Reynolds was fourth in the discus and fifth in the shot put.

Other top incoming Bruin freshman include - jumper/hurdler Dana Bethel (Mission Viejo HS), pole vaulter Jamie Kolar (Long Beach Poly) and high jumper Caroline Sommers (Agoura HS). Bethel at the CA State meet placed third in the 100m hurdles (13.83w, 14.01Q, season-best) and fourth in the long jump (20-2 3/4w, season-best). Kolar's 13-0 was No. 8 in the U. S. last season and in 2001 she placed fourth in the CA State meet and ninth at the U. S. Juniors. Sommers placed first at the CIF Div. II meet with a seasonal-best 5-8.

'Our staff works very hard in recruiting, trying to attract the finest student-athletes to attend UCLA,' Bolden said. 'Over the years we have assembled some of the nation's top recruiting classes and this season's incoming group is again one of our best. These incoming athletes, led by Monique Henderson, have the elite talent to contribute right away at the conference and national level, both on the track and in the field.'

Losses From Last Season
Christina Tolson, Michelle Perry, Shakedia Jones and Deana Simmons helped the Bruins last year win their second consecutive NCAA Indoor title, fifth consecutive Pac-10 crown and a second-place finish at the NCAA Outdoor.

Tolson won both the NCAA Outdoor (57-0.75) and Indoor (55-9.75) shot put titles last season, while also placing second Outdoors in the hammer (215-0, Pac-10 Record) and second Indoors in the weight throw (68-9.75). At the 2001 Pac-10 meet, Tolson won both the shot put (58-3.75, No. 3 in school history) and hammer throw.

Perry last season emerged as one of the upcoming U. S. standouts in the heptathlon. At the NCAA Outdoors, in just her second career multi-event, she placed second with 5,759 points (No. 3 in UCLA history). She also earned two other All-American Outdoor honors, running the first leg on UCLA's 4 X 400m relay (fifth-place) and finishing seventh in the 400m hurdles ( 59.64).

Jones during her Bruin sprint/relay career earned NCAA All-American honors 10 times. At the 2001 NCAA Outdoor, she placed second (11.10w) in the 100m.

Simmons, as a senior last season at the NCAA Indoor, helped lead the Bruins to the team title by placing second in the triple jump (44-2.50, personal-best).

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