LOS ANGELES – Forget that UCLA senior pole vaulter Mike Woepse crushed the event’s 16-year-old meet record at the UCLA-USC dual meet Sunday. Or that Woepse’s 18-feet, 51/4-inch clearance is the sixth-best vault in the world this season.
No, on a sun-drenched afternoon full of promise, Woepse secured something more valuable.
“Bragging rights,” the former Mater Dei High star said.
Woepse’s winning height gave him the family record, no small feat given that his father, Greg, a former world-class vaulter, once jumped 18-5.
“It’s going to be bad,” said Greg Woepse, shaking his head, when asked if he expected his son to give him a hard time.
Sergey Sushchickh and redshirt freshman Jonah Diaz went 1-2 in the 5,000-meter run to clinch an 89-74 victory for the Bruins men in college track’s most storied rivalry.
The Trojans women delivered a 95-68 romp for first-year USC head coach Caryl Smith Gilbert, a former UCLA Pac-10 champion sprinter, outscoring the Bruins 36-1 in the sprints despite missing suspended All-American Jessica Davis.
After struggling with his technique for much of the season, Woepse finally found his form in the last two weeks. Having already won the competition with a nearly 2-foot clearance of 16-4, he cleared 18-11/4 on his second attempt for the meet record, and then erased Dad from the family record book on his first attempt at 18-51/4.
“I didn’t think he’d get it,” Greg Woepse, surrounded by family members, joked facetiously later. “I thought it was too high for him to jump.”
The younger Woepse now turns his focus to another record revered by the family (and the sport), the 36-year-old UCLA school record of 18-81/4 set by Olympic medalist Mike Tully, a longtime Woepse family friend.
Woepse had a near miss at 18-91/4 on his second attempt Sunday.
“He’s a 19-foot vaulter,” Bruins vault coach Anthony Curran said. “No doubt.”
Even without Davis, suspended for the meet for violating team rules, the Trojans women still swept the 200, 400 and both relays and went 1-2 in the 100 to give Smith Gilbert her own set of bragging rights that might not be appreciated by her former UCLA teammates.
“Oh, I’m already hearing from them,” she said.
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