This is the second year of the new regime of UCLA head coach Mike Maynard, but expectations for track and field are still high. The Bruins have already participated in a triangular meet with Texas and Arkansas and a dual meet with Tennessee. Coach Maynard developed a reputation with throwers and he is recruiting high school all-Americans throwers, pole vaulters, middle distance runners (coached by Johnny Gray) and a traditional strength, sprinters.
The Ducks have lost three NCAA champions (ten individual titles) the last two years and in their state of transition they had the number one recruiting class in the nation (according to track and field news). Oregon still has their middle distance and distance strength and have added this year two NCAA finalists, steeplechaser Steve Finley and Justin Frick and last year's anchor on the US world junior 4x400 meter relay, Mike Berry (200 and 400 meters).
Participants that helped the Ducks win last year's fourth consecutive Pac-10 title had to come up with clutch performances to help the Ducks win the UCLA dual. Four of the Ducks top performers did not compete at last year's dual but the Ducks had enough depth to win, 92-71. The newcomers are expected to make large contributions and Duck regulars Vernell Warren (Long Jump and High Jump), David Klech (110 Hurdles and Long Jump), AJ Acosta (1,500 meters or Steeplechase), Elijah Greer (800 meters), and Matthew Centrowitz (1,500 and 800 meters) are expected to win or get big points in competitive events.
The Bruins have some of the top sprinters in the conference and look to win their third consecutive 4x100 meter relay title this year at the Pac-10 meet. Randall Carroll (100) and Maxwell Dyce (200) are two of the top sprinters in the conference and Oregon will attempt to break up their sprint dominance with football players LaMichael James, Kenjon Barner and Dior Mathis in the 100 and Mike Berry in the 200 meters. Cory Primm (800 and 1500 meters) will battle Duck all-Americans Acosta, Centrowitz and Greer and Jonathon Clark (triple jump) will battle recent members of the 50-foot club, Brian Schaudt and Tyler Pinkney.
Last year the Ducks lost both of the long distance races, steeplechase and 5,000 meters, but this year they need to lean on their fifth year seniors to win to ensure a team victory. Daniel Mercado and Kenny Klotz may be joined by Acosta and Centrowitz to help ensure a win in the 5,000 meters. Finley decided to run his final year of eligibility at Oregon and is heavily favored in the steeplechase at this dual and will be counted on for big points at the Pac-10 meet.
Luckily the Ducks have veterans in some of the tougher events that can help the freshman Ducks that hope to help the Ducks score points in key events. Parker Stinson will run the 5,000 meters and Boru Guyota and Cole Watson are penciled in for the 800 and 1,500 meters.
This event should go down to the 4x400 relay, with the winner of the meet likely to be determined by that race. Oregon has veterans Bryan Harper, David Klech or Eric Hersey, Elijah Greer, and Mike Berry, the same squad that won the MPSF indoor championship. If it goes to my form chart the Ducks will win 86-77 (http://www.runnerspace.com/news.php?news_id=17822-2011-Oregon-vs-UCLA-form-chart) .
It will be a great meet, as all UCLA duals have been in the past. The accomplishment of tough performances in stressful situations have helped propel the Ducks in the past to Pac-10 championships and this will hopefully be a repeat of that success.
Assistant AD and director of Duck Track and Field, Vin Lananna, said before the meet, "This will be a good gauge for our men as we prepare for the Pac-10s in Arizona next month."
Ducks go for four in a row against Bruins
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