Santa Barbara, Calif- Eight Gauchos have punched qualifying bids into the NCAA West Preliminary Round held May 29-31 at the University of Arkansas. Four men and four women will make the trip to Fayetteville in search of a top-12 finish in their respective event, earning a spot in the NCAA Final held at the University of Oregon's Historic Hayward Field.
To qualify for the NCAA "First Round" an athlete must be ranked in the top-48 in their event. There are two regions: East and West, which are basically separated by the Mississippi River give or take a few schools within close proximity. In the relay events the top-24 teams qualify for the NCAA Prelims.
At the Preliminary Round, both sites (Fayetteville in the West and Jacksonville in the East) will hold the same events on each day. To advance to the NCAA Final an athlete will need to finish in the top-12 in their event.
Evan Walker: 100m- 10.50
Evan Walker, a senior from Loyola High School in Los Angeles has qualified for the NCAA Preliminary Championships in the 100m dash. His qualifying time of 10.50 (2.1w) was within the NCAA qualifying wind standards of 4.0 but over the 2.0 standard for record purposes, otherwise his effort would have established a new UCSB benchmark. His wind legal lifetime best of 10.58 is just off the UCSB record of 10.56 held by Sandy Combs.
Walker will take to the track at 6:30pm on Thursday, May 29th in the qualifying rounds.
Shyan Vaziri: 1500m- 3:42.44 ** School Record Holder
Shyan Vaziri is a junior from Scripps Rach in San Diego. He has developed into one of the most electric mid-distance talents on the west coast and will go to Fayetteville ranked 12th in the 1500m. Vaziri took a narrow second at the Big West Championships with a 3:46.62 kick-down effort. His personal best came at the Brian Clay Invite at Azusa Pacific where he ran 3:42.44. Vaziri's APU time set a new UCSB school record in the 1500m. In a pre-conference 800m tune-up at Occidental, Vaziri set a new lifetime best at 1:49.05, showing fine closing speed.
Vaziri will run at 5:30pm on Thursday, May 29 in the qualifying rounds.
Bryce Rausa: 3,000m Steeplechase- 8:57.94
Bryce Rausa was the Big West bronze medalist in the 3,000m steeplechase. He fired off his PR at the Mt. Sac Relays, taking second in a loaded collegiate field at 8:57.94. Rausa is the first steepler since 2010 to break the 9 minute barrier and is the 8th Gaucho to eclipse the standard. This spring Rausa has established new personal bests in the 800m (1:51.94), the 1500m (3:48.91) and in the 3,000m (8:35.65).
Rausa will run at 8:50pm on Friday, May 30th in a one race quarterfinal to decided the top-12 steeplers in the West Region.
Albert Hughes: Hammer- 199'6
Albert Hughes, a junior from Pacifica HS in Garden Grove will make his NCAA Regional debut in the men's hammer throw. Hughes is a two-time Big West runner-up in the event and has a lifetime best throw of 199'6, which he set at the Cal Poly Dual. Hughes is fifth all-time at UCSB in the hammer. Hughes won four collegiate meets in the hammer in 2014.
Hughes will throw at 10am on Friday, May 30th. Throwing in three flights of 16, the twelve best throwers will advance to Eugene.
Jessica Johnson: 400m- 53.77
Jessica Johnson put together a solid second-half to her 2014 season and found herself on the Big West podium. Johnson took third in the Big West 400m final with a time of 54.29. She set a new lifetime best at the Occidental Invite running 53.77. Johnson has moved to third all-time in UCSB history in the 400m. She ran the 200m once in 2014, running a 24.60, moving her to fourth all-time in the event in her only appearance.
Johnson will step on the track at 7:45pm on Thursday, May 29th for her qualifying round.
Tori Tsolis: 1500m- 4:24.81
Tori Tsolis rallied her women's team at the Big West Championship and inspired them with her gutsy second place finish in the 1500m. Tsolis went for the lead late and finished a narrow second with a new lifetime best of 4:24.81. Tsolis moved to fifth all-time in UCSB history in the 1500m. Tsolis also won the 1500m at the Cal Poly Dual and at the 2014 Big West Challenge Cup, both with PR performances.
Tsolis will toe the line at 6pm on Thursday, May 29th for her qualifying round.
Jessica Emde: High Jump- 5'9.25
Jessica Emde, a sophomore from Oakridge HS will jump in her first NCAA Preliminary meet after her Big West bronze medal jump of 5'9.25. Emde also jumped 5'8 at the Cal-Nevada Championships to take third. She jumped 5'7 to win the Cal Poly Dual. Emde has four wins so far this season, totaling 8 over her two year career at UCSB thus far. She is fifth all-time in UCSB history with her leap of 5'9.25 (1.76m).
Emde will get vertical in the last field event of the meet set to start at 6pm on Saturday, May 31st.
Melissa Rake: Javelin- 151'0 **School Record Holder
Melissa Rake added nearly 30 feet to her freshman PR and punched a new school record at the Big West Championships with her throw of 151'0. Rake won the UC Riverside Spring Break Invite with a throw of 144'3. She also took top honors at the Cal Poly Dual with a throw of 139'9.
Rake will throw in the first field event of the meet held Thursday, May 29th.