IRVINE, Calif.--The men's track and field team had an amazing team performance after day one of the Big West Conference Finals held at UC Irvine's Anteater Stadium. Several of the men claimed individual conference titles and set new personal records. The Gauchos currently have a very generous lead in total team points over its conference competitors with 105 points compared to UC Riverside in second with 44 points.
Highlights on day one included Mitchell Haag's new lifetime best mark of 7-1.5 in the high jump and earning his second Big West Conference title. Mike Larocca would go on to finish second in conference at 6-11 followed by Max Villalba (6-9) to sweep the top three spots.
Another highlight included Anthony Masci's incredible finish (9:02.23) in the 3k steeplechase to become the 2012 Big West Conference Champion. Teammate Andrew Pilavjian claimed second in conference (9:05.90) while Bryce Rausa narrowly missed a podium spot, crossing the line in 9:11.47 behind Brandon Shirck of Cal Poly.
John Walsh claimed third in conference in the long jump (23-10.75) which eclipsed his previous personal best by three inches. Derek Masterson, who won the decathlon last weekend finished sixth in conference with a jump of 23-4.75
The men continued to secure podium finishes throughout day one with Alex Umstead placing third in conference in the shot put with a toss of 57-7.5 for a new lifetime best and third in the hammer throw (189-7).
In the track events, Jordan Scott held the second fastest qualifying time in the 400m trials (48.20) while Karlon Johnson had the third fastest time of the day (48.47) and a new personal record for the sophomore. Beidi Beer had a season best time of 10.83 and Evan Walker crossed the line in 10.91 in the 100m dash.
The men's 800m qualifying heats were lead by Ryan Martin who finished with the second fastest time of the day (1:51.37) and Rusty Parker with the third fastest time (1:52.57). Both will move on to tomorrow's much anticipated race where it will be de ja vu all over again with Martin and UC Irvine's Charles Jock going head-to-head to claim the fastest 800m time in not just the Big West but the entire NCAA.
Shyan Vaziri, this past week's Big West Athlete of the Week in the 1,500m qualified for the finals with his preliminary time of 3:54.03. Jeremy Acosta lead the men's 10k, finishing 7th in conference with a time of 31:40.79 followed by Juan Paredes (31.46.08), Bhavik Kanzaria (31:53.91) and Andrew Pilavjian (32:08.66).
Sean Johnson ran a lifetime best of 14.55 in the 110m hurdle preliminaries while Mikael Powers finished in 14.64 for a lifetime best as well. Both will compete in Saturday's finals. Powers also narrowly qualified for the 400m hurdle finals after slipping on the final hurdle. Fortunately, Powers was able to still beat out Javon May of Fullerton State University by six-thousands of a second and setting another personal best. Powers also competed in the high jump where he jumped a lifetime best of 6-5 to place fifth in conference.
The men will continue day two of the Conference Championships tomorrow at Anteater stadium with the men's javelin beginning at 10:00am and the men's 4x100m relay team beginning at 2:05pm.
The schedule for tomorrow's events can be found here.