The Long Beach State Track and Field team will compete as a full roster Friday and Saturday in the Bob Larsen Distance Carnival and Jim Bush Legends Invitational at UCLA.
The seven 49er decathletes and heptathletes will be rejoining the team, competing in their primary individual events.
As s March rolls away, the team is still focused on preparations for its April events and building a championship mindset.
“We’re trying to be sharper and mentally engaged. We are working to be stronger-minded, tougher-willed, show some grit and get out there and compete,” head coach Andy Sythe said.
“Competition brings out the things and those experiences we need to get better at, and there’s no question that when we go to UCLA, there’s going to be some great competition.”
Despite the competition, the team still considers this a tune-up for its championship season, so not all athletes will be competing in their prime events. Throwers and jumpers cannot compete in other throws or jumps from a technique perspective, but the runners will be moving around competing in events that may not necessarily be their strength.
“We’ll see a lot of mix up and variety just to give them something different to do,” Sythe said. “That keeps us a little fresher and it keeps us from being stagnant.”
This will be the first time the 49ers compete in these particular meets, and the first time the team will be traveling to UCLA to compete since 2015, where it narrowly lost to the Bruins in a nationally televised competition.
This weekend will be quite different from then, as these are invitationals that will not be scored and the meet will also include a distance carnival.
All normal events will still be held throughout both days, but the carnival focuses on creating a competition for distance events in particular.
“It’s set up to create an environment for that kind of energy, that group of athlete and to make it very competitive,” Sythe said. “They do create that energy and build-up where you can kind of blare music and not worry about it affecting a sprinter on the startup or a jumper on the runway.”
Despite the fact that these two events have different names, they are still joint events and will be held at the same field.
The team knows it’s going to compete at UCLA despite it being an off-event, but it still brings a high level of competition that Sythe said he hopes will give the team more experience and help build it improve. He also said that going into it as an off-event could put it at a disadvantage, but that it would give it an opportunity to step up when it has to.
“This is a brand new event to everybody. The thing that makes this weekend special is that they are getting a chance to go offsite, off our facility and compete on a well-known stadium that carries some clout,” Sythe said. “You know you are in the lion’s den a little, and you have to fight your way out.”