2003 Women's Track and Field Outlook

Feb. 20, 2003

Led by three returning NCAA Outdoor individual champions and the defending NCAA Indoor distance medley relay, 10th-year UCLA head coach Jeanette Bolden will once again direct a Bruin squad that will contend for NCAA Indoor and Outdoor team honors and compete for its seventh consecutive Pac-10 title. UCLA also returns six All-Americans and Pac-10 scorers and an elite recruiting class. In the 2003 Trackwire preseason Top 25, the Bruin women were in a third-place team tie with Florida.

In 2002, UCLA placed second at both the NCAA Indoor (the Bruins won the team titles in 2000 and 2001) and Outdoor Championships (under Bolden, the Bruins have placed in the Top 3 on eight occasions in nine seasons, including second-place Outdoor finishes in four of the last five years). The Bruins also won their sixth consecutive conference title (under Bolden, the Bruins have won eight Pac-10 championships in nine years).

DEFENDING NCAA INDIVIDUAL CHAMPIONS

Junior Lena Nilsson (1500m), senior Chaniqua Ross (discus) and sophomore Jessica Cosby (shot put) all won individual NCAA event championships at last year's NCAA Outdoor meet held in Baton Rouge, LA. The Bruins tied an NCAA record at last year's Outdoor meet with five NCAA individual winners, including an NCAA record four field event champions (Ross, Cosby, and then-seniors, Darnesha Griffith, high jump and Tracy O'Hara, pole vault).

Nilsson (Vallentuna, Sweden) had one of the great seasons in UCLA women's distance running history in 2002. Along with winning the NCAA Outdoor 1500m (4:12.60), she also ran the anchor leg (1600m) on UCLA's NCAA Indoor championship distance medley relay (10:58.19, school record); and set Bruin records in the 800m (2:02.26, 8/13, Malmo, Sweden) and 1500m (4:09.89, 7/6, Brunswick, ME). In addition, she was named the Pac-10 Women's T & F Athlete of the Year by becoming only the second women's athlete to win both the 800m (2:03.88) and 1500m (4:20.81) at the Pac-10 meet. Last summer, in international competition, Nilsson won both the 800m (2:04.85) and 1500m (4:17.73) at Sweden's National Championships (8/17-18, Gavle, Sweden). Last fall, in cross country (6000m), Nilsson earned All-American honors at the NCAA Championships (17th-place, 20:10.0), placed second at the Regional meet (20:45) and was third at the Pac-10 Championships (20:01).

Ross (Elk Grove/Laguna Creek HS), a second-team Dist. VIII Academic All-American (3.33gpa, sociology) last season, won the NCAA Outdoor discus title with a mark of 182-0, won her second consecutive Pac-10 title (180-8) and set a personal-best of 188-6 (No. 7 in school history). In the discus, she was ranked No. 8 in the U. S. by T&FN.

Cosby (Mission Hills/Cleveland HS) earned the 2002 NCAA Outdoor shot put crown with a personal-best (57-0.25, No. 6 in school history) and earned All-American honors (6th, 53-10.50) at the NCAA Indoor. At last spring's Pac-10 meet, Cosby was second in the shot put (54-1) and fourth in the hammer throw (195-4, personal-best, No. 5 in school history). T&FN rated her the No. 4 shot putter in the U. S.

Senior Tiffany Burgess (Van Nuys/Birmingham HS), sophomore Monique Henderson (San Diego/Morse HS) and senior Jessica Marr (Hayward HS) ran the first (1200m), second (400m) and third (800m) legs on UCLA's winning NCAA Indoor distance medley relay.

Before Nilsson set the school 800m record, Burgess ran the best 800m time in school history, running 2:03.73 in winning the 800m in UCLA's dual meet victory over USC on May 4 at Drake Stadium. Her 2:03.73 (800m) was the No. 1 time in the collegiate ranks and she also ran in the 800m at the U. S. Championships. At the 2002 NCAA Indoor, Burgess earned All-American honors on the Bruins' 4 X 400m relay (third leg, 3:36.59, fifth place).

Henderson, who set the national prep 400m record (50.74, 2000) during her high school career, had an outstanding true freshman campaign in 2002 and was named the Pac-10 Women's T & F Newcomer of the Year. At the World Junior meet, July 16-22 in Kingston, Jamaica, Henderson won two gold medals, winning the 400m (51.10, season-best) and ran the second leg of the winning U. S. 4 X 400m relay (3:29.95, American Junior record). At the USA Junior meet, June 21-23 in Palo Alto, Henderson was second (51.52) in the 400m. Collegiately, along with her NCAA Indoor championship in the distance medley relay, Henderson earned three All-American honors (NCAA Outdoor - 400m, 7th, 52.31; 4 X 400m relay, anchor, third-place, 3:28.79/in qualifying the Bruins set the school record with a time of 3:28.58 NCAA Indoor - second leg, 4 X 400m relay). At the 2002 Pac-10 meet, Henderson placed second in the 200m (23.04, personal-best, No. 7 in school history) and anchored UCLA's winning 4 X 400m relay (3:31.97). Last season T&FN rated Henderson the No. 10 400m performer in the U. S.

Marr scored for the Bruins at the 2002 Pac-10 meet, placing fifth in the 800m (2:07.32). Her career-best mark of 2:06.79 set last season is No. 10 in school history.

'These six athletes will be the core of our team,' said Bolden, who was named the USTCA West Region and Pac-10 Women's T & F Coach of the Year for the sixth consecutive season in 2002. 'They have all competed, internationally and nationally, at the highest level. Their leadership and hard-work ethic are excellent examples for our younger athletes.'

RETURNING 2002 NCAA ALL-AMERICANS

The Bruin women also return six experienced athletes who all scored at last season's NCAA Outdoor or Indoor meets.

Leading this group is senior Ysanne Williams (Albany, NY HS), who competed indoors and redshirted the 2002 Outdoor season after having surgery on both ankles. During her Bruin career, she is a five-time All-American, including at last year's NCAA Indoor (opening leg, 4 X 400m relay). In 2001 as a sophomore, Williams ran on UCLA's Pac-10 winning 4 X 400m relay (second leg, 3:32.81) and as a freshman in 1999, she won the 800m at the Pan Am and USA Junior meets.

Junior Sheena Johnson (Stafford, VA/Garfield HS) will be one of UCLA's top performers in 2003. In her two-year Bruin career, she has earned All-American honors on five occasions and has four Pac-10 titles (400m hurdles, 4 X 400m relays). In 2002, Johnson earned two All-American honors at the NCAA Outdoor (400m hurdles, 4th, 55.71, personal-best, No. 4 in school history; third leg, 4 X 400m relay) and, at last winter's NCAA Indoor, she was an All-American, running the anchor leg on UCLA's 4 X 400m relay. At last spring's Pac-10 meet, Johnson defended her 400m hurdle crown (57.35), ran the third leg on the Bruins' winning 4 X 400m relay and placed second in the 100m hurdles (13.39). T&FN rated her the No. 5 400m hurdler in the U. S. in 2002.

Junior Adia McKinnon (Homewood-Flossmoor, IL, HS) is another experienced Bruin veteran. Last July, she ran for Trinidad/Tobago at the British Commonwealth Games in Manchester, England. At the 2002 NCAA Outdoor, McKinnon earned All-American honors for the third time in her career, running the second leg on UCLA's 4 X 400m relay. At the Pac-10 meet, she placed third in the 400m (53.26), having won the 400m crown as a freshman in 2001, and ran the third leg on UCLA's winning 4 X 400m relay.

Junior Cari Soong (Riverside/North HS) is one of the top collegiate hammer throwers in the U. S. A four-time All-American, Soong earned All-American status at both the NCAA Outdoor (hammer throw, 4th, 209-7) and Indoor (20lb. weight throw, 10th, top eight Americans, 63-10.25) last season.

Junior Lara Saye (Henderson, NV/Silverado HS) earned All-American at the 2002 NCAA Outdoor (discus, fifth, 175-2) and, at the Pac-10 meet, she placed fourth in the discus (165-8) and 10th in the hammer throw (172-1, personal-best).

Sophomore Briona Reynolds (Grand Forks, ND/Red River HS) was one of the top junior throwers in the U. S. last season. At the World Junior meet, Reynolds was 12th in the shot put (48-9). At the U. S. Junior meet, she placed second (54-2, ties personal-best) and third in the discus (164-11). At the 2002 NCAA Outdoor, she placed ninth in the discus, earning All-American (top eight Americans, 171-9).

'All these athletes have experience at the highest levels,' said Bolden, who is unbeaten during her nine-year career dual meet record (68-0). 'The talent and depth of this group has helped lead us to National and Pac-10 championships.'

RETURNING 2002 PAC-10 SCORERS

The Bruins will return six athletes who scored for the Bruins in individual events and relays at last year's conference meet.

In the distances, sophomores Alejandra Barrientos (Felton/San Lorenzo Valley HS) and Carolyn Shea (Waterville, ME HS) will help pace UCLA. For the last two cross country seasons, Barrientos and Shea have helped the Bruins qualify as a team for the NCAA Championships. At last spring's Pac-10 meet, Barrientos placed fifth in the 1500m (14:26.95, personal-best) and Shea was sixth in the 3000m steeplechase (11:02.18). At the 2002 U. S. Junior meet, Barrientos was ninth in the 1500m (4:33.79) and Shea was sixth in the steeplechase (11:16.70).

In the relays, the Bruins return junior Sani Roseby (Monterey, CA HS) and sophomore Dana Bethel (Mission Viejo HS). Although slowed last season with a hamstring injury, Roseby ran the first leg on UCLA's Pac-10 4 X 100m relay (5th, 46.53) and also qualified in the 100m and 100m hurdles. As a freshman in 2001, Roseby qualified in the 100m hurdles and 4 X 100m at the NCAA Outdoor. Bethel ran the third leg on UCLA's 4 X 100m relay and also qualified in the 100m hurdles.

In the field events, junior Gail Larsen (Spokane, WA/Ferris HS) was fifth in the pole vault (12-10, personal-best, No. 4 in school history) and sophomore Candice Baucham (Inglewood/Long Beach Poly) placed third in the triple jump (42-3.25) and qualified in the long jump at the 2002 Pac-10 meet. Baucham, at last summer's U. S. Junior meet, was seventh in the triple jump (39-2.25) and tied for 17th in the long jump (16-10.50). As a true freshman, Baucham placed 18th in the triple jump (40-4) at last year's NCAA Outdoor Championships.

'These athletes provided us with quality, depth and leadership last year at both the national and conference levels,' said Bolden, who has led the Bruins to the last seven consecutive national dual meet titles. 'They have the talent to score at both the NCAA and Pac-10 meets.'

ELITE RECRUITING CLASS

Five Track & Field News 2002 High School All-Americans lead UCLA's incoming freshman recruiting class, rated No. 2 in the nation in the February 2003 issue of Track & Field News.

Sheena Gordon (Erie, PA/McDowell HS) earned All-American honors in two events, the high and triple jumps. Her 6-0i high jump was the nation's top prep indoor mark and her 42-10.25 triple jump was also a national leader. At the U. S. Junior meet, she was fifth in the high jump (5-8) and third in the triple jump (41-9). During her four year Pennsylvania prep career, she won eight State championships and collected 15 medals in 16 events, including winning the high jump and triple jump three times each and the long jump twice.

Chelsea Johnson (Atascardero HS), in her first year competing in the pole vault, was the national prep leader (13-6) in 2002 and finished seventh in the voting for the T&FN Women's HS Athlete of the Year. Last spring, she won the CA State meet and, at the U. S. Juniors, she was fifth (12-1.50). Her father is Jan Johnson, the 1972 Olympic pole vault bronze medallist and 1971 USA Outdoor champion.

Dawn Harper (Kennedy HS), from Jackie Joyner-Kersee's hometown of East St. Louis, IL, ran a 13.63 100m hurdle time last spring, No. 4 on the U. S. high school list for the second straight season. During her four-year Illinois high school career, Harper won both hurdle crowns at the Illinois State meet on three occasions (2002-01-99).

Jenna Timinsky (Encinitas, CA/San Dieguito Academy), as a true freshman last fall on the Bruins' cross country team, was one of the top runners who helped lead UCLA to a team berth at the NCAA Championships. In the 800m last spring, her 2:08.74 was No. 5 on the national list. She placed second at the CA State meet (2:09.48) and won the Golden West Invitational (2:09.59).

Kamaiya Warren's (Berkeley/St. Mary's HS) 2002 seasonal-bests of 47-10.5 in the shot put and 165-5 in the discus were No. 9 on the U. S. high school lists. At the U. S. Junior meet, she was seventh in the shot put (47-10.50) and 12th in the discus (142-3). And, at the CA State meet, she was third in the shot put (45-11) and discus (158-9).

'These five All-Americans are the heart of our recruiting class,' Bolden said. 'Right now, they are all at the level to be potential scorers at the NCAA and conference meets.'

Also helping the Bruin cause this season, as incoming freshmen will be - Tiffany Brown (Bakersfield/Stockdale HS), Ashley Caldwell (Los Gatos HS), Jamie Cluff (Scottsdale, AZ/Christian HS), Allison Hall (San Diego/Rancho Bernardo HS) and Nastassja Hall (Vista/Rancho Buena Vista HS).

Brown's 42.58 300m hurdles clocking ranked her 12th nationally. Caldwell set a personal-best 2:09.65 (No. 11 on U. S. prep chart) in the 800m qualifying and placed third in the final (2:09.49) at the U. S. Junior meet. Cluff's 13.79 100m hurdles was No. 6 on the 2002 U. S. list and, last spring at the AZ State 2A meet, she won four events for the second year in a row and set three State meet records (100m hurdles, 14.01; 300m hurdles, 43.45; triple jump, 36-6). Allison Hall placed fifth in the 800m at the CA State meet and her best mark was 2:12. Nastassja Hall's 44.30 300m hurdles is No. 9 all-time in the San Diego section and her 19-0 long jump is No. 12 all-time San Diego.

REGIONAL QUALIFYING

After the 2003 Pac-10 meet (May 17-18 at USC) and for the first time ever, there will be a West Regional Qualifying Meet (May 30-31 in Palo Alto) to determine individual entries to the 2003 NCAA Outdoor (June 11-14 at Sacramento). Qualifying standards (please see page 2 in the 2003 UCLA Women's T & F Guide) must be met to advance to the four Regional Qualifying meets around the country (conference champions will automatically qualify).

At the Regional Qualifying meets, the top five finishers in each event will advance to the 2003 NCAA Outdoor with an additional six to eight at-large student-athletes to be selected in each individual event based upon a season-long performance list.

Regional qualifying increases the NCAA Outdoor finals cap from 388 student-athletes per gender to 544 student-athletes per gender, allowing 156 additional student-athletes per gender access to the finals.

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