Masterson, Gauchos Begin Defense of Big West Titles

Derek Masterson (Photo by Tony Mastres)
Derek Masterson (Photo by Tony Mastres)

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB multi event series athletes will be heading to the Cal State Northridge track and field complex to begin the first weekend of the Big West Conference Championship, May 4-5.

Associate Head Coach Cody Fleming is excited to see what his athletes can do after this long season of hard training. He refers to the heptathletes and decathletes "the special forces" of the team because they have to ability to go into the meet this weekend and start the conference championship off in the decathlon and heptathlon and also come back and compete the following weekend, May 10-11, in their specialty single events.

Fleming's main goal is for each of the athletes is to go in and complete a solid series of events. He feels that each individual has the ability to have a great meet and he is confident each of them will do well.

Freshman Tori Usgaard will be one Gaucho woman who is competing in the heptathlon.  Although she has big shoes to fill with the graduation of Big West record holder and All-American Barbara Nwaba, Fleming believes she has the ability to earn herself a spot on the podium. 

On the men's side the Gauchos have four athletes competing this weekend.  Senior Derek Masterson - who will be defending his conference championship from last season – leads the group.  Senior Mike Powers, who finished second behind Masterson at last year's Big West meet, junior Billy Britt, and freshman Ike Okapara. The group of four will begin the men's program's defense of its first Big West team title.

After being forced to pull out of last year's NCAA Championships, Masterson is going into the Big West meet aiming for another chance at qualifying. He hasn't had the easiest season - enduring a minor strain in his left hamstring at the Sam Adams Multi event a few weeks ago - but he is back on track, healthy, and ready to compete.