Leach and Johnson Win West Region Titles on Saturday

May 27, 2006

Senior Chelsea Johnson and freshman Nicole Leach notched No. 13 UCLA's only event winners on the final day of the fourth annual West Region Championships in Provo, UT as Johnson won the pole vault and Leach won her signature event, the intermediate hurdles. As a team, the Bruins placed second overall with 92.50 points, just missing the team title by 1.50 points. Stanford and USC both tied for first with 94 points.

Johnson won her second West Region title on Saturday (she won in 2004) with a jump of 13-11.75, and automatically moves on to the national meet. She currently is the NCAA Record holder at 15-1 and was the NCAA Indoor champion earlier this season and NCAA Outdoor champion in 2004.

'Everyone was competing under the same conditions,' said Johnson. 'Excuses won't get you to nationals and I was going to get to nationals in any condition. I am happy to win. I chose to stop. I was on a short run with small poles and there was no way I was going to be breaking any records today. I didn't want to risk injury in 50 degree weather.'

Also in the pole vault, Elizabeth Woepse tied for 13th, clearing 12-6, while sophomore Ingrid Kantola tied for 18th, also with a clearance of 12-6. Junior Jacqueline Nguyen finished 27th with a mark of 12-0.

Leach won the 400m hurdles in a new lifetime-best of 56.54. Her time moves her to No. 6 all-time at UCLA, No. 9 in Pac-10 Conference history, and remains the No. 5 time in the nation this year. Leach is the second Bruin to win a West Region 400m hurdle title in the meets' four year existence (Sheena Johnson won in '03, '04).

'I wanted to keep my stride open, attack each hurdle and run smoothly,' said Leach. 'I knew if I did that, I would run a good time. I did all that, although I hit the last hurdle a little bit, but everything worked out just fine.

'My practices will consist of quality and tempo running,' Leach said about the upcoming National meet. 'At the NCAA, there are five or six runners who can run what I did today or event faster. I have to get used to that pace through the qualifying rounds at the national meet.

Senior Dawn Harper finished second in the 100m hurdles, running a personal-best 12.80, automatically qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor. Her time moves her to No. 3 on the all-time UCLA list (her previous best was No. 4/12.91) and is also No. 5 on the all-time Pac-10 chart.

Sophomore Jolanda Diego advances to the NCAA meet after a fourth-place finish in the 200m. Diego ran a wind-legal lifetime-best 23.29 (w+1.9) (old best, 23.50). The time also moves her into the UCLA all-time top-10 at the No. 9 spot. She also placed eighth in the 100m final, running 11.71 (w+2.6).

In the triple jump, sophomore Renee Williams placed second with a new lifetime-best jump of 42-10.25. Williams is now qualified in two events for the NCAA meet (finished fifth in the long jump on Friday). The mark also moves Williams to No. 6 all-time at UCLA. Sophomore Nicole Duhart finished ninth with a mark of 41-6.50.

In the 4x100m relay, UCLA's team of freshmen Krystin Lacy and Chanelle Curry, Leach and Diego finished third (44.76), automatically qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor.

The 4x400m relay team of junior MacKenzie Hill, Curry, sophomore DeShanta Harris and Leach placed second in a season-best time of 3:36.22 and automatically moves on to the NCAA meet.

Junior Kamaiya Warren also qualified for the NCAA meet with her fifth-place finish in the discus on Saturday, throwing 163-9.

In the 1500m, junior Ashley Caldwell placed seventh (4:28.65) and will have to wait and see if she is given an at-large spot to Nationals. Caldwell currently ranks 23rd with a time of 4:21.36.

In the steeple, senior Leslie Barrie placed 15th running 11:17.51. Freshman Ciara Viehweg was scratched from the race due to illness.

In all, the Bruin women automatically qualified eight individual athletes and two relays in 10 events to the upcoming NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships, held June 7-10 in Sacramento. Qualifying for the NCAA Outdoor are - UCLA's 4x100m relay (Lacy, Curry, Nicole, Diego, 3rd), 4x400m relay (Hill, Curry, Harris, Leach, 2nd), Jolanda Diego (4th in 200m), Dawn Harper (2nd in the 100m hurdles), Nicole Leach (1st in 400m hurdles), Chelsea Johnson (1st in pole vault), Rhonda Watkins (the winner in both the long and high jumps), Carolina Summers (tied for 2nd in the high jump), Renee Williams (2nd in triple/5th in the long jump), Kamaiya Warren (5th in discus).

At-large candidates will be announced sometime next week.

Final Team Standings
1. Stanford, 94 pts.; 1. USC, 94 pts.; 2. UCLA, 92.50 pts.; 4. Arizona State, 82 pts.; 5. Oregon, 62 pts.; 6. California, 47 pts.; 7. Washington, 30 pts.; 8. Utah State, 28 pts.

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