Leach Wins NCAA 400m Hurdles Crown
June 12, 2009
Senior Nicole Leach capped off her Bruin career with an NCAA title in the 400m hurdles, the second of her career, to highlight the UCLA women at the NCAA Outdoor Championships in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Leach was the favorite heading into the NCAA meet and did not disappoint as she posted the fastest time in every single round of the competition. On Friday evening she won her second NCAA crown, this time in a time of 55.39.
With today's win, Leach joins an elite group of Bruin hurdlers with multiple NCAA titles - Joanna Hayes, Janeene Vickers and Sheena Johnson.
Leach won in 2007, was the runner-up in 2008 and ended her career with another crown on Friday.
'It means a lot to me to be one of a few Bruin women to have won multiple titles,' said Leach. 'I'm so happy to be a part of UCLA history and it's truly a blessing to be compared to women like Joanna Hayes, Janeene Vickers and Sheena Johnson.
'I got out well and just tried to settle down over the first few hurdles. I opened up over five and get off on six. I took off down the stretch and ran for home. Yesterday, I had to take an extra step at the 10th hurdle and it could have hurt me, but luckily I was able to push through. I'm going to work on fixing that over the next few weeks and get ready for USAs.
Leach will head to Eugene, OR June 25-28 for the USATF Senior National Championships as she competes for a spot on the World Championship team.
'When you are recruiting athletes, you hope that you can find an athlete that has the same goals, dreams and passion that you have for the sport and Nicole is one of those people,' said head coach Jeanette Bolden. 'It has been such a joy to have her on this team. She has not changed one bit from the time she came to UCLA as a freshman until now. She still has the same attitude, demeanor and leadership skills.
'She's been a lot more vocal in trying to rally our team this year and it's been great having her here. I'm sad to see her graduate, but am so happy for her to be moving on in her career.
'The tradition of hurdling at UCLA is deep and for Nicole to be in that company says great things about her abilities. She's overcome a lot from winning her first crown in 2007, competing at the World Championships in 2007, stumbling in the opening rounds of the hurdles at the Olympic Trials in 2008 until now. It's just great to see her end her Bruin career like she did here in Arkansas.'
Leach ends her career at UCLA with two NCAA crowns, six All-American accolades, four West Region titles and three Pac-10 crowns.
Also on Friday, freshman Ryann Krais ended her competition in the heptathlon. The youngest competitor in the field, Krais had a solid day, moving up to 11th-place after beginning the day in 14th.
Krais began the day with the sixth-best long jump mark, 18-3, for 717 points. She then threw her second-longest javelin mark of the season, 120-9, for 606 points and the ninth-best mark of the day. Krais then ended her competition with the fourth-fastest 800m time (2:14.96) for 893 points and a seven-event total of 5549 points.
In the 400m semifinal, senior Krystin Lacy finished sixth in her heat and 10th overall in a time of 53.83. Lacy ends her career with two All-American honors in the 4x400m relay. She also was a member of three West Region and two Pac-10 4x400m relay squads.
In the pole vault, junior Katy Viuf no-heighted.