Men's Track & Field Signs Five Student-Athletes to National Letters-of-Intent
Nov. 13, 2006
Art Venegas and the UCLA men's track and field team has announced the signing of five student-athletes to National Letters-of-Intent for the 2007-08 school year. The signees include several athletes nationally ranked in their respective events. Heading to Westwood are sprinter Nevin Gutierrez and distance runners Michael Cybulski, Ken Morikawa, Cory Primm and Evan Watchempino.
Recently, the Bruins' freshmen class was named the No. 1 recruiting class in the country by Track and Field News, and with the student-athletes committing to UCLA this year, Venegas is again assembling one of the finest recruiting classes in the country.
'Right on the heels of our previous No. 1 ranked recruiting class, we felt that it was imperative that we continue to bring in the type of athletes that can bring us back to national prominence,' said Venegas. 'We are thrilled to have gotten nationally ranked performers who share local ties, as well as outstanding students in the classroom.'
MICHAEL CYBULSKI, Distances, Royal HS (Simi Valley, CA)
Cybulski enters his senior season at Royal HS as the team's No. 1 cross country runner, helping them to a No. 1 Division I team ranking. A top-ranked long distance runner, Cybulski will enter the outdoor track season as the No. 3 returning 2-mile runner in the country (8:53.85). He is also one of the top returning 3000m runners in the nation.
In 2006, Cybulski posted the No. 5 3000m time (8:15.67) and No. 6 2-Mile time (8:53.85). His 3000m time ranks sixth all-time in the 3000m, while a 3200m tiem of 8:50.75 ranks 13th all-time. Cybulski ranked eighth in CA in the 1600m (4:10.47) and No. 2 in the 3200m in 2006, and is a two-time CA State Champion in the 3200m.
'Michael is the best long distance runner we have recruited since Meb Keflezighi (a former NCAA Champion at UCLA in the late 90's),' noted Venegas. 'He is a two-time CA State champion in the 3200m and one of the most sougth after recruits nationally because of his ability to impact in cross country, indoor and outdoor track. He is extremely young for his class, but brings great racing maturity to the program and is at his best under championship race situations.
NEVIN GUTTERIEZ, Sprints-400 Meters, JW North HS (Riverside, CA)
Gutteriez enters his senior track season as the No. 3 returning quarter-miler in the country, after ending the 2006 season ranked sixth in the nation (46.79). He ended the 2006 season second at the CA State Meet in the 400m and second on the performance list. He was also ninth in CA in the 200m last season (21.37).
'Nevin has tremendous upside,' said Venegas. 'He is a tall, powerful quarter-miler, who as outstanding as he is in the open quarter, brings special magic to the relay. He has thrilled CA State Meet fans with his tremendous 4x400m carries and we are certain that he will be a major force in the 400m and 200m under Coach Veney's tutelage.'
KENT MORIKAWA, Distances, Torrance HS (Torrance, CA)
Morikawa, the regning 2005 Daily Breeze Cross Country Runner of the Year, will head to UCLA after a strong junior campaign which saw him win the Pioneer League cross country title (16:03), placed second at the CIF Division II finals (15:24), fourth at the CA State Meet (15:39) and 19th at the West Regionals (16:12). On the track, Morikawa posted a season-best 9:11.46 in the 3200m (15th in CA in 2006) and won the Pioneer League title in that event, as well as advanced to the CIF Southern Section Masters Meet.
'Kent has a tremendous upside as an outstanding cross country and track performer,' noted Venegas. 'He's very slender and efficient as a long distance runner and appears to be at his best in the bigger races.'
CORY PRIMM, Middle Distances, Westlake HS (Thousand Oaks, CA)
Primm is the No. 1 returning 800m running in the nation after having posted the second-best time in 2006 (1:50.53/No. 6 in Junior competition). He won the 2006 CA State 800m title to finish the 2006 season as the state's top half-miler. He was also the No. 4 1500m runner in CA in 2006 with a best of 3:56.31.
'The defending CA State champion, who won the title in convincing fashion, has an outstanding kick at the end of his races,' said Venegas. 'He is very much under-raced, having not raced on club teams during the summer, and has untapped talent. He will also be looked at to possibly run the mile for us, but he's primarily an 800m runner'
EVAN WATCHEMPINO, Distances, Jesuit HS (El Dorado Hills, CA)
Watchempino joins the Bruins as a strong long distance runner. Hampered by injuries in 2006, Watchempino has raced strong during the 2006 cross country season. Watchempion joins a long list of Jesuit HS runners who have competed for UCLA including All-American Austin Ramos and volunteer assistant coaches Scott Abbott and Michael Stember.
'Coming off an injury filled junior year, the staff sees a lot of potential in his upcoming senior campaign. We are thrilled to get another runner from the super distance power Jesuit HS.'
UCLA expects to sign a few more student-athletes during the National Letter-of-Intent period, as well as possibly during the Spring signing period.