No. 13 Women's Track & Field Set For NCAA West Region Championships

May 22, 2006

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The No. 13 UCLA women's track and field team will travel to Provo, UT this weekend for the fourth annual NCAA West Region Championships. The meet, which is held on Friday, May 26 and Saturday, May 27, qualifies athletes for the NCAA Championships in Sacramento June 7-10.

The top-five finishers in each event receive automatic bids to the national meet. Athletes who finish in sixth through eighth-place are then given at-large bids based on their place in the national descending order list.

In all, UCLA has 31 regional qualifying marks, with several athletes posting two qualifying standards in their respective events.

Last season, the Bruins finished second to Stanford after having won the first two West Region crowns in 2004 and 2003. UCLA has also had 15 event winners at the regional meet in just the first three years of its existence.

This year, UCLA will look to finish in the top-three as a team and qualify as many athletes as possible to the NCAA Championships. Fourteen women currently rank in the top-8 in the region, with several ranked in multiple events.

Two athletes with double top-8 rankings, freshman Nicole Leach and junior Ashley Caldwell, will focus on just one event this weekend as both prepare to make a run at All-American honors in Sacramento.

Leach, who holds the No. 1 400m hurdle time (56.89) and No. 2 400m mark (52.27), will focus on just the intermediate hurdles from here on out. Nationally, Leach has the fifth-fastest time in the nation this year.

Caldwell, a double qualifier in the 800m and 1500m, will run just the 1500m the rest of the season. Last weekend at Pac-10's, Caldwell ran the sixth-fastest time in the region, 4:21.36, a mark that ranks 23rd in the nation.

Senior Leslie Barrie and freshman Ciara Viehweg will be the only other distance runners, aside from Caldwell, at the Regional meet. Barrie (10:33.48) ranks 10th in the region in the steeple, while Viehweg (10:43.29) is 19th.

Sophomore Jolanda Diego will represent the short sprints for UCLA, racing the 100m (10.53, 9th in the region) and 200m (23.50, 5th in the region).

Senior Dawn Harper, who had a tough Pac-10 meet, will look for redemption this weekend after a quad wrap unraveled, forcing her to slow down in her race. Harper has the fourth-best hurdle time at 13.20 and should definitely finish in the top-five. Junior MacKenzie Hill will compete in the 400m hurdles after having ran a season-best 59.76 in the prelims of the Pac-10 meet. Her time ranks third in the region.

Senior Chelsea Johnson will look to recapture the West Region crown after having won it in 2004. Last weekend, Johnson set a new NCAA Collegiate Record, clearing 15-1 to win the Pac-10 title.

The Bruins will have four pole vaulters compete this weekend. Along with Johnson, junior Jacqueline Nguyen and sophomores Ingrid Kantola and Elizabeth Woepse will compete. Nguyen is tied for fourth in the region with her best of 13-7.25, while Woepse is tied for 10th (12-11.50). Kantola's best of 12-5.50 ranks 22nd in the region.

Sophomore Renee Williams will double up in the long jump and triple jump after earning all-conference honors at the Pac-10 meet. Williams' long jump mark (20-9.25) ranks third in the region, while her triple jump (42-8.75) ranks sixth. Sophomore Nicole Duhart will join Williams in the triple jump as she is just behind her in the regional rankings, 7th (42-6.25).

Freshman Pac-10 champion in the high jump, Rhonda Watkins, will compete in the high and long jump this weekend. Watkins currently is in a tie for second in the region in the high jump with a best mark of 5-11.25. She also ranks fifth in the long jump with a mark of 20-7.25.

Senior Caroline Sommers (5-10.75), sophomore Allison Miller (5-8.75) and freshman Lauren Correa (5-8.75) will also compete in the high jump this weekend. Sommers ranks fifth, while Miller and Correa are tied for 7th in the region.

All-American Kamaiya Warren will look to qualify in both the shot put and discus for nationals. Warren has a strong chance of advancing in the shot put as she currently holds the No. 4 shot put mark (55-11). She also ranks sixth in the discus with a best of 168-0.

The 4x100m relay team and 4x400m relay team also have a strong chance of advancing to nationals. the 4x100m currently ranks 2nd with a best time of 44.90, while the 4x400m ranks fourth (3:39.29).

Women's field events begin on Friday at 12:00 pm with the long jump, while running events start at 2:00 pm with qualifying rounds of the 4x100m. On Saturday, field events begin at 10:00 am with the hammer, while the finals of the 4x100m relay kick running events off at 1:30 pm.

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