Following the dominating performances of the UCLA Women's track and field team over then No. 1 ranked USC; the Bruins have jumped from No. 4 to take over the top spot in Trackwire's Top 25. The UCLA Men's team jumped 12 places in the poll following its 40-point rout of USC going from No. 18 to No. 6 this week. The UCLA women join softball and women's water polo as nationally ranked No. 1 teams this week.
The women defeated the Trojans 111-92 last Saturday. The Bruins were lead by freshman Monique Henderson who was named Pac-10 Track Athlete of the Week. Henderson won the 400 meters in 51.33. That mark was the second fastest 400 in UCLA history. It was also the top collegiate mark and the third best mark in the world this year. Henderson was also part of the winning 4x400 meter relay team, which won in the school's fifth fastest time in history of 3:32.02.
The Men's team defeated USC 121-81 last Saturday, and reached it's highest place in the polls this season. This week the men will compete in the Oxy Invitational, Medesto Relays and Pac-10 Multi-Events.
Trackwire's Top 25 is a power rating of the top Division I track and field teams. The poll is intended to project the outcome of the NCAA Division I Outdoor Track & Field Championships. As of this week the UCLA women are projected to win the title with 87 points over No.2 USC with 78 points. The Bruin men are projected to finish sixth with 26 points behind No.1 Tennessee.
A second poll takes into account the accomplishments of teams in dual meets and individual marks. The IAAF/USATF Team Power Ranking also places the Bruin women in the top spot with 408.11 points, which is nearly 40 points ahead of No. 2 UNC- Chapel Hill with 369.34 points.
On the men's side of the Team Power Rankings, the Bruins are rated No. 2 with 370.16 points only behind top rated and NCAA defending champs Tennessee with 374.49 points.
The 2002 NCAA Outdoor Track & Field Championships will be held in Baton Rouge, Louisiana on May 29-June 1.
#1 Women's Water Polo Team in NCAA Championships This Weekend
The UCLA Women's Water Polo team will try to defend its national championship this when it returns to the NCAA Championships at USC's McDonald's Swim Stadium May11-12.
The championships consist of four teams, water polo's "Final Four." The Bruins (21-3), despite the #1 ranking, are seeded #2, with #2-ranked Stanford getting the #2 seeding.
On Saturday, Stanford (21-2) will face #4-seed Michigan (25-11) , and UCLA will square off against #3-seed Loyola Marymount (20-7). UCLA will play at 5:00 p.m. The winners of each match will play in the championship game on Sunday at 5:00 p.m. UCLA's rivalry with Stanford will undoubtedly continue this weekend. All three of UCLA's losses this year came against the Cardinal. But the Bruins beat Stanford in the MPSF championship game, 11-7, in a dramatic come-from-behind victory. Jessica Lopez, scored three goals in that game to lead the Bruins.
UCLA is gunning for its sixth championship in seven years, only missing the winning the championship once (in 1999) since 1996. UCLA won the first inaugural NCAA championship in women's water polo a year ago. Women's water polo, on a collegiate level, has only been in existence since 1995, and UCLA has won five of those seven championships.
#1 Women's Softball Faces Biggest Challenge of Season
The UCLA women's softball team, which is considered the dominating dynasty in women's softball, will face its closest rival in Arizona Friday in a game that could decide the Pac-10 championship and the #1 seeding in the upcoming NCAA tournament.
The Bruins (47-6, 15-3) and Wildcats (48-7, 15-3), between the two of them, have won 15 national championships in 23 years. Arizona has six, while UCLA has won 9. Arizona defeated UCLA last year in the NCAA championship game, 1-0.
UCLA and Arizona have split two games this year. When UCLA, though, beat Arizona in Tucson this season in the beginning of April, it ended the Wildcats' 70-home game winning streak. It also ended the winning streak for Arizona's star pitcher and All-American, Jennie Fitch. Fitch had won an NCAA-record 60 games in a row before that game, including the NCAA title game against the Bruins last season.
UCLA's All-American catcher, Stacey Nuveman, also just established an NCAA record for career home runs this season with 86 so far for her career. She overtook two Arizona playes who previously held the record, Leah Braatz and Laura Espinoza.
So, while there is much riding on this game because of the rivalry, the Pac-10 championship and the #1 seeding in the NCAA tournament could very well could be decided tomorrow also. UCLA and Arizona are tied for first in the Pac-10, and the winner of Friday's game would be in the driver's seat to win the conference with only two other conference games remaining. While the regular season final rankings have already been released (and UCLA was #1), if Arizona wins tomorrow it could conceivably give them #1 seed in the NCAA championships over UCLA. The NCAA tournament will begins May 16th and culminates with the championship game May 27th.
The two teams face each other at 2:00 p.m. Friday at UCLA's Easton Stadium.
Three Bruins are among the ten finalists for the inaugural USA Softball Collegiate Player of the Year Award: senior catcher Stacey Nuveman, sophomore pitcher Keira Goerl and junior shortstop Natasha Watley.