The presence of upperclassmen dominates the UCLA track and field throwing roster.
The Bruins have nine returning throwers from last season and will be sending six of them to their first meet of the year at the Northern Arizona University Friday Night Duals in Flagstaff, Arizona on Friday.
Redshirt senior thrower Dotun Ogundeji said continuity has provided leadership not seen in prior years.
“(Having many returners) helps out because now we have such great leadership on the team,” Ogundeji said. “Every athlete on our team now, including myself, (redshirt senior thrower) Ashlie Blake, (redshirt sophomore thrower) Nate Esparza – those types of athletes that we’ve had since day one.”
Ogundeji said he has high aspirations of his own after finishing 13th in shot put at the NCAA Division I 2018 Indoor Championships with a mark of 18.54 meters.
“I think I will do extremely well (this season),” Ogundeji said. “My only goal this year is actually to make it on top of the podium and move myself up that top-10 list, if not (to) surpass the great Nicholas Scarvelis and Braheme Days.”
Ogundeji – who is roommates with returning senior thrower Justin Stafford – said the two have been plotting something big in the weeks leading up to the start of the season.
“We’ve been in constant contact about how far we can push ourselves and what we need to do to get (to the podium),” Ogundeji said. “I honestly think (Stafford) is going to be able to take over the NCAA.”
Stafford finished in third place in the hammer throw at the 2018 Pac-12 Track & Field Championships but placed 17th at NCAA Division I 2018 Outdoor Championships.
Throws coach John Frazier said Stafford’s performance at the NCAAs is a learning experience for him after now having a year under his belt upon returning from an ankle injury.
“(Stafford) has a better idea and …