The powerful UCLA track and field team is coming to Provo to meet BYU Monday in a dual competition that, well, doesn't count. It's BYU vs. UCLA in a dual meet - just for fun.
Earlier this week, much to the surprise of BYU Coach Willard Hirschi, the Bruins requested that the competition be a non-scoring meet - in other words, no team scores would be kept. It is not a request Hirschi expected from a perennial national powerhouse."I don't know why," Hirschi said last week. "They've got better times than us in all but two or three events. They're something else."
Actually, UCLA's request isn't all that difficult to understand. The Bruins, apparently trying to protect their unbeaten streak of 43 straight dual meets that dates back to 1984, are limping.
Steve Lewis, the Olympic 400-meter dash champion; Mike Marsh, the leading collegiate sprinter in the nation; and Derek Knight, one of the country's top intermediate and high hurdlers, are all nursing hamstring injuries and, according to UCLA's sports information office, won't compete in Provo.
"I'd say the chances are very, very slim," said one UCLA official.
The Bruins understandably don't want to risk further injury as they enter the peak part of the season. They are co-favorites to win the NCAA championship, which will be held May 31-June 3 in Provo.
The Bruins' depth is such that, even without their injured stars, they will still present a formidable opponent for BYU on Monday. According to Track & Field News, UCLA athletes rank in the top 10 in 11 events. The Bruins have three discus throwers who have thrown farther than 190 feet.
Monday's meet will begin with the field events at 11 a.m. (the hammer an hour earlier), and the running events at noon. It is scheduled to end at 2:15 p.m.
Because it is a non-scoring competition, BYU has invited a handful of top athletes from Utah State, Utah and Weber State to compete in the meet.
The UCLA women's team, which has finished no worse than seventh in the last four NCAA championships (and was second last year), will send a dozen athletes to the meet, four of them All-Americans. Sophomore Janeen Vickers ranks fourth nationally in both hurdle races.