RIVERSIDE, Calif. - Trailing after the first day of competition, Darion Williams used a strong day two to claim the Big West decathlon title at UC Riverside. This was the third decathlon win for UCSB in the last three years. Williams led a strong team showing for UCSB as four men broke into the scoring column, running up a combined 20 points, giving the Gauchos the team lead heading into next weekends championship meet.
Williams finished with a total of 6,844.
"I'm proud of what our men accomplished today. Cal Poly's Teddy Scranton is a tough competitor. He brought out the best in himself as well as Darion and both men were rewarded with lifetime best scores." said Associate Head Coach Cody Fleming.
Cal Poly's Scranton finished in second with a total of 6,768.
Williams started the second day of competition in fourth place. He used a strong hurdle performance to quickly erase the deficit, winning in 14.99. One heat later, Scranton lowered his personal best nearly six tenths to 15.64, showing he wasn't going to do down without a fight.
"This was one of the best Big West decathlons in recent memory. There were multiple lead changes, the order of the top eight shuffled with each event and it went down to the wire." said Fleming.
Scranton answered back in the discus, throwing 139'00 to Williams 129'5, regaining the lead by 49 points heading into the pole vault.
Williams used key third attempt clearances and a new personal best leap of 13'5.25 in the pole vault to take the lead back in what turned out to be a four hour vault competition. With each bar worth 28 points, Williams stayed in at every bar from 12 feet on to work up his total. Scranton managed a vault of 11'5.75, also a best for him.
Heading into the javelin, there was a bit of excitement inside Riverside track and field stadium as nine of the top-twenty best javelin men in the conference were set to square off. The jav's flew well and the lingering crowd were rewarded with eight throwers eclipsing the 160' foot mark and six over 170'.
Scranton landed the first jab, opening with a 176'4 lifetime best. Williams, last year's Big West Bronze medalist in the event, managed a throw of 170'0.5 in round one. Scranton improved in round two to 179'9, briefly cutting into the lead.
Using a noticeable burst in energy, Williams walked back for his second throw and unleashed a toss of 185'5. Neither of the men would improve in round three.
Holding a 139 point lead into the final event, the 1,500m, Williams would need to stay within 22 second of Scranton to win the competition. He would only need 11 of those precious (7 point) seconds.
Running with the chase pack the entire distance, Williams held ground, finishing in 5:05.20 to Scranton's 4:54.38.
The real race was for the rest of the top-eight.
UCSB senior Billy Britt won the event with a time of 4:41.83, moving from fifth to fourth, recording a score of 6,436.
Zach Tombol, a sophomore competing in his first year of multi-events, held onto sixth, finishing in 4:53.71 and scoring 6,344.
Jeff Oechsli moved up from eighth to seventh with a 4:45.12 effort, finishing with 6,267. The Gauchos would go on to finish 1-2-3 in the final event, an impressive finish for an impressive team showing.
When the dust settled the Gauchos delivered 20 team points, landing four men in the scoring column.
Also competing, Ike Okpara finished in tenth with a score of 6,032.
"There were some shaky moments for us today but I can't say enough how proud I am about the way the men finished the meet." said Fleming of his athletes performance in the javelin and 1,500m.
Britt's marks were: 15.35 (110m Hurdles), 109'4 (Discus), 11'1.75 (Pole Vault), 163'3 (Javelin), 4:41.83 (1,500m)
Tombol's marks were: 18.43 (110m Hurdles), 142'8 (Discus), 12'9.5 (Pole Vault), 179'3 (Javelin), 4:53.71 (1,500m)
Oechsli's marks were: 16.71 (110m Hurdles), 93'9 (Discus), 12'1.5 (Pole Vault), 173'7 (Javelin), 4:45.12 (1,500m)
Okpara's marks were: 16.41 (110m Hurdles), 106'7 (Discus), 10'10 (Pole Vault), 134'1 (Javelin), 5:11.79 (1,500m)
Finishing as the top freshman in the conference, Lolene Swallow placed 11th in the heptathlon, moving up one spot from her day one placing. Swallow finished with a score of 4,055 in a field of 17 competitors.
Next week the Gauchos will head back to UCR for the Big West finale with the full squad in towe. Check back with ucsbgauchos.com for a full preview of conference match-ups and all of the links you'll need to track the action.