2007 Women's Track & Field Season Preview
Jan. 2, 2007
The UCLA women's track and field team is just a few weeks away from the 2007 season and the team is excited and ready to compete. The Bruins will open up the indoor season on January 19th-20th at the New Mexico Lobo (Modrall Sperling) Invitational in Albuquerque, NM.
Last season a young Bruin women's team fi nished a disappointing 14th-place at the NCAA Outdoor meet. This season,with more experience under their belt, they will look to return to the top-10 in the nation, while producing some ofthe top marks in the country. With few seniors, this team will rely on its youth and super-sophomores Nicole Leach andRhonda Watkins to lead the Bruins in 2007.
In 2006, a senior and a freshman led the Bruin sprintsquad. In 2007, the former freshman, Nicole Leach,will be the figure head for a young, but talentedteam.
Leach came to UCLA as one of the most heraldedintermediate hurdlers in prep history, and herfi rst season at UCLA backed up all the hype as sheearned All-American honors in just her fi rst year asa Bruin. Leach also won the West Region and Pac-10400m hurdles crowns, and was named Pac-10 Newcomerof the Year. She has already cemented herselfinto the record books at both UCLA and in the Pac-10 Conference, as she ran the No. 5 time in schooland conference history last season (55.35). Duringthe summer, Leach won her third consecutive 400mhurdle USATF Junior title and represented the U.S. at the World Championships in Beijing, China, where she earned a gold medal on the 4x400mrelay team. Leach's experience and talent will lead the way for the Bruinsprinters in 2007 as she will compete in the hurdles, quarter-mile (52.27)and relays.
Senior MacKenzie Hill returns for her fi nal year at UCLA as the No. 2400m hurdler from 2006 with a best of 58.39. Hill has NCAA experiencein both the hurdles and relays, and will add depth throughout the seasonin those events.Sophomore Chanelle Curry will also add depth in the 400m hurdlesafter a solid first year in the event last season (1:02.96). Curry will alsoplay a pivotal role in the 400m (55.43) and relay events after havinggained NCAA Championship experience last season in the 4x400m relay.
Sophomore Krystin Lacy will also be looked at for a spot on the relaysafter having ran at the NCAA meet last June. With bests of 24.35(200m) and 56.69 (400m), Lacy is ready for a breakout year.
Junior Jolanda Diego will lead the way in the shorter sprints afterhaving gained valuable experience last season at the NCAA Championships.Diego had a strong sophomore campaign as she ran the No. 9200m time in school history (23.28). She also has a top 100m time of11.54.
The Bruins lost All-American Dawn Harper to graduation, so a younggroup of hurdlers will have to step in and make an impact right away.Junior heptathlete Georgea Richards returns to lead a very youngsquad with a best of 13.98. She will be joined by one of the top prephurlders in CA last season, Tierra Ward. Ward was a state fi nalist in boththe 100m (14.12) and 300m hurdles (41.98) and should make an immediateimpact for the team.
Southwestern Christian College transfer Maris Wisdom brings a400m best of 53.3 and could see time in the relay, along with freshmanDanielle Watson (55.66). Fifth-year law student Johanna Monthe willalso add depth in the 400m and relays as she comes to Westwood witha top quarter-mile time of 53.5.
Watkins, in just her fi rst year competing collegiately, saw incrediblesuccess as she won the West Region long (21-6, Meet Record) and highjump (5-9.25) titles, earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Championships(fi nished 11th in LJ and 12th in HJ at NCAA's). Watkins also wonthe Pac-10 high jump title (5-11.25), and in the Summer of 2006, wonthe World Junior long jump title with a jump of 21-2.50. Her internationalexperience and incredible talent will again make her one of thetop jumpers in the country this season.
Williams, a two-time All-American, also had a great 2006 season, highlightedby her ninth-place fi nish at the NCAA Outdoor meet in the triplejump (42-11.50). She showed great improvement throughout the yearin the triple jump, improving nearly three feet on her previous lifetimebest. With her NCAA experience and talent, this junior will help lead theBruin jumpers in 2007.
Lauren Correa (5-8.75), Allie Miller (5-9.25) and Kathleen Mahony(5-7) add depth to the high jump squad, while junior Nicole Duhartwill add depth to the triple jump. Last season, Duhart missed a spot atthe NCAA meet by four, but moved into the UCLA all-time top-10 with abest of 42.6.25 (No. 8), and will undoubtedly vie for a spot at the NCAAmeet this season.
Returning jumper Leslie Rychel and newcomer Julia Co will adddepth in both the long and triple jump this season. Southwestern ChristianCollege transfer, Keneisha Creary will also add depth in the jumpswith best marks of 5-8 in the high and 39-9 in the triple.
UCLA pole vaulting has held a spot in the national limelight for numerousyears, and with the addition of two of the top prep hurdlers inthe country and the return of All-American Jackie Nguyen, this yearlooks to be no different.
Nguyen returns after a solid junior season in which she jumped theNo. 12 mark in the country, 13-7.25, a vault which ranks fourth all-timeat UCLA. She brings experience and leadership to a solid squad, andwill look to lead the Bruins this season while making her mark on thenational scene.
Newcomers Tori Peña and Lindsay Regan come to UCLA after impressiveprep careers. Peña, the No. 4 ranked vaulter in the nation (No.2 in CA), brings a prep best of 13-2, while Regan comes to Westwoodwith a best of 13-6. Both will make an immediate impact for the Bruinsin 2007.
Junior Elizabeth Woepse returns after a strong sophomore year inwhich she improved to 12-11.50, a mark which tied for seventh all-timeat UCLA. Along with Ingrid Kantola (12-7.25) and Megan Jamerson(12-5.50), this vault group is poised to be one of the strongest in thecountry.
This large squad is keyed bythree senior leaders and a wealthof depth and talent.
Leading the way is All-AmericanAshley Caldwell, who hada strong junior season, culminatingin her ninth-place fi nish atthe NCAA Outdoor meet in the1500m. She ran a lifetime-best4:19.73 last season, and is primedand ready to make her fi nal yearat UCLA a successful one.
Also adding senior leadershipare Allison Hall and Jenna Timinsky.Hall adds depth in all ofthe distance events, ranging fromthe 800m (2:10.55) to 5000m(17:45.78), while Timinsky addsdepth in the 800m (2:06.26) and 1500m (4:23.88). Last season, Timinskycompeted in the steeplechase for the fi rst time, and moved into UCLA'sall-time top-10 (No. 7 mark) with her 10:49.59 performance.
Also in the steeple, sophomore Ciara Viehweg returns to lead thisgroup after an impressive frosh campaign in which she ran the No. 5mark all-time at UCLA (10:43.29, No. 7 on the 2006 U.S. Junior list). Withone year under her belt and more experience running the steeplechase,this sophomore could make some noise at the national level.
Sophomores Allie Bohannon and Olga Aulet-Leon will add depthin the 800m and 1500m races. Bohannon had a breakout season duringthe 2006 cross country campaign and is training at a level that spellssuccess for the coming year. Primarily an 800m runner, Bohannon bringsa top time of 2:13.01 to the team. Aulet-Leon sat out cross country, andboth indoor and outdoor track last year due to injury, but is back andready to compete. As a freshman, she ran bests of 2:14.19 and 4:26.20,and is ready to surpass those times in 2007.
Junior Shantae McKinney (2:10.50) and sophomore GabrielleBournes (2:12.62) also add depth in the 800m races.
Juniors Claire Rethmeier and Monika Rothenburger return to leadthe Bruins in the longer distance races - 5000m and 10,000m. Like Aulet-Leon, Rothenburger was injured last season, but is healthy and readyto assist the Bruins in the 5000m (17:38.02). Rethmeier also is ready tohelp the Bruins in the long distance events with bests of 36:23.67 in the10,000m and 16:56.31 in the 5000m.
Newcomers Krishna Curry, Cobbie Jones, Nicole Pennes, HannahRoeder and Bailey Schutte should make an immediate impact in theirfi rst year at UCLA. Curry brings a top prep time of 2:10.6 in the 800m,while Roeder has a top 800m time of 2:14.94. Jones had prep bests of2:09 in the 800m and 5:02 in the mile. Schutte will see time in the 1500mevent after having ran 4:39 in the 1600m in high school. Pennes willrun the longer distance events as she comes to UCLA with top times of10:36.7 in the 3200m and 4:54 in the 1500m. Freshman Rosa Magañashould also add depth in the 800m as she has a top time of 2:13.21 inthe 800m.
Usually one of the deepest squads on the team, the throws group issmall, but talented. Led by All-American Kamaiya Warren, this groupwill look to remain dominant in the Pac-10 Conference.
Warren returns to lead the team as one of two seniors this season.She had a slightly off year in 2006 after a breakout sophomore year inwhich she won the Pac-10 discus title and fi nished third at the NCAAOutdoor meet. Last season, Warren competed at both the indoor andoutdoor NCAA Championships and brings experience to the team withtop marks of 183-3 in the discus and 55-11 in the shot put.
Javelin thrower Sarah Ingram returns to join Warren in the seniorclass. Last season, Ingram had a strong year after transferring to UCLAfrom Santa Barbara City College and posted a UCLA-best of 133-6.Heptathlete Hillary Werth will also add depth to the javelin after havingthrown 141-1 last season.
Freshman Tara Ross looks to make an immediate impact in the javelinafter ending her prep career with a top mark of 137-8. She also hasa discus best of 137-0.
Transfers Mary Hanley (HT-152, DT-146-5, SP-40-5) and Kirsti Stanich(DT-140) will add depth to the squad, while former sprinter KiyokoGuillory will compete in the hammer after converting to a thrower duringthe fall of 2006.
This season, two competitors will represent the Bruins in the heptathlon- junior Georgea Richards and sophomore Hillary Werth. Richardscompeted in the heptathlon last season, fi nishing ninth at the Pac-10Championships with a score of 4,838 points. Werth only competed inthe javelin last season due to injury, but is recovered and ready to competein the seven event competition this season.