SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UCSB will send a group of eleven athletes to Austin, TX for the first round of NCAA qualifying this weekend. The Gauchos are scheduled to compete five newly crowned Big West Champions at the University of Texas in search of a coveted top-twelve finish and a spot in the NCAA Final. Four UCSB athletes enter the meet with a top-twenty ranking in the NCAA West Region.
The NCAA First Round is a preliminary competition held at two sites, one in the west (Austin) and one in the east (Jacksonville). Held on the same day, with events going simultaneously at both sites, the top 48 athletes in open events and top 24 relays teams from each region will square off looking to finish in the top-twelve.
Twelve athletes in each event and twelve relays from each region will meet at the NCAA Final two weeks later in Eugene, OR.
NCAA Regional Entries and Results Link (The results link will go live closer to the competition)
UCSB Competitors and Event Schedule
Tori Tsolis - (1,500m) Thursday, May 28th 5:30PM
Tori Tsolis will kick off the week for the Gauchos in the 1,500m. Tsolis recently finished fourth at the Big West Championships in the event and holds the #2 spot All-Time in UCSB history with a best time of 4:21.95.
Tsolis ranks #26 in the NCAA West Region and will look to qualify for Saturday's final at 6:30pm.
Also a talented 800m runner, Tsolis brings with her a two lap best of 2:09.65, a speed reserve she'll need to tap into to the advance in the rounds.
Jessica Johnson - (400m) Thursday, May 28th 7:20PM
Taking the track next for the Gauchos will be their superstar 400m runner, Jessica Johnson. At the Big West Championships, Johnson demolished the field while lowering her personal best in the event to an eye-opening 52.50. Heading into the week ranked 13th in the NCAA West Region, Johnson will look to be the second UCSB athlete in three years to advance to the NCAA Final following Jenn Carey's remarkable run in 2013 which took her from the NCAA Final all the way to the IAAF World Championships.
Johnson holds the #2 spot in UCSB history behind Carey's 52.29 in the 400m. At the Big West Championships, Johnson lowered her 200m best to 23.79, moving to #2 All-Time at UCSB.
Dani Moreno - (10,000m) Thursday, May 28th 9:00PM
Dani Moreno will make her third NCAA Regional appearance in 10,000m after narrowly missing the final in 2013 with a 14th place finish. Moreno recently captured her first Big West title in the 10,000m after running a strategic 37:33.52 twenty-five lapper at UCR. Moreno holds a 10k best of 34:23.18, a time which she set at the Stanford Invite this April, a time that ranks her #4 All-Time in school history.
Moreno ranks 33rd in the NCAA West Region heading into the weekend.
Bryan Guijarro - (10,000m) Thursday, May 28th 9:40PM
Bryan Guijarro is coming off a dominant Big West performance where he won the 10,000m and finished second in the 5,000m. Scoring 18 individual points, Guijarro further established his potion as one of the most respected runners in the Big West.
Guijarro set his lifetime best in the 10k at the Stanford Invite, clipping a 29:11.20 performance, good for #4 All-Time in UCSB history. Guijarro ranks 24th in the NCAA West Region heading into the weekend.
This is the second NCAA Regional appearance for Guijarro in the 10,000m. He is the regning Big West Cross Country Champion.
Guijarro started his junior track season with seven consecutive wins, one of the longest winning streaks in the NCAA DI.
Albert Hughes- (Hammer) Friday, May 29th 2:00PM
Hughes holds the 18th spot in the NCAA West Region by virtue of his 209'3 hammer toss at the UCR Spring Track Classic. He is a three-time Big West runner-up in the event and is #3 All-Time in UCSB history in the event. Hughes placed 17th last year at the NCAA Regional, improving his pre-meet ranking by nearly 20 spots.
His success this season has been far reaching, including Big West Scholar Athlete of The Year, SBART Athlete of The Year and UCSB Golden Eagle award recipient for track and field. Hughes graduated winter quarter with a degree in Philosophy.
He will be the last thrower in the second flight out of three.
Jessica Emde - (High Jump) Friday, May 29th 6:00PM
Emde came to UCSB as a 5'5 prep jumper. The times have changed. She takes a collegiate best of 5'10.5 into the West Regional- a mark which earned her the Big West title two weeks ago. She is ranked 17th in the region and looks to improve upon her 20th place finish at the 2014 regional.
Emde has delivered six meets over 5'8 on the year.
Emde is tied for #4 All-Time in UCSB history in the event. She is one of the winningest athletes in school history with 14 meet wins already to her credit- a remarkable statistic for the Oakridge HS native.
Bryce Rausa - (3,000m Steeplechase) Friday, May 29th 9:30PM
Rausa propelled the UCSB men's team to a second place team finish with his steeplechase win and 1,500m runner-up. Heading into the Big West meet, Rausa ranked second with his season's best time in the steeple of 8:51.24, the sixth fastest time in school history. Rausa came out firing, running in the lead until the second to last lap before tripping over a barrier. Teammate Adam Avila took over the race briefly as Rausa hopped to his feet and reeled back the lead in a dead sprint. Rausa went on to win with a blistering finish, shocking the field.
He will go into the weekend ranked 18th in the NCAA West Region in the event.
Rausa also ranks #10 All-Time in UCSB history in the 1,500m. He has incredible range, owning a 1:51 best in the 800m and a 3:48 best in the 1,500m.
Adam Avila - (3,000m Steeplechase) Friday, May 29th 9:30PM
Avila is on a roll. After finishing ninth as a freshman and second as a sophomore in the steeplechase at the Big West meet, Avila delivered another Silver medal performance in the event as a junior. His season best time of 8:59.40 ranks #8 All-Time in UCSB history.
He has two steeple performances under 9 minutes on the year and goes into the NCAA West Regional ranked 43rd in the event. His Big West time was 9:02.99.
Matthew Kuskey- (Javelin) Saturday, May 30th 12:00PM
Kuskey came to UCSB as a former football player/golfer with a linebacker frame. In two short years he has developed into one of the top javelin throwers in the Big West, recently placing third at the league championship. Kuskey unleashed a throw of 202'8 on his second attempt at the Big West meet, a mark he would hold all the way up the podium for second.
He brings a lifetime best throw of 205'11, set at the Cal Poly Dual into the weekend and a #41 regional ranking.
Thomas Gore-Schreck- (Javelin) Saturday, May 30th 12:00PM
On Friday, April 10th, Thomas Gore-Schreck erased a 15 year UCSB record in the javelin with a throw of 234'3. Improving over 9 meters during his senior year, Gore-Schreck looks to capitalize on improved throwing technique and a faster run-up in search of a top-twelve qualifying spot in Austin.
Gore-Schreck holds the highest UCSB regional ranking going into the meet at #10.
Recently, he captured his first Big West title in the event with a throw of 218'1 and also has throws of 224'4 (Cal Poly Dual) and 221'7 (Stanford Invite) on the year.
Melissa Rake- (Javelin) Saturday, May 30th 5:00PM
At the Stanford Invite, Rake upped her UCSB school record in the javelin to 154'1 en route to winning the competition. Rake goes into the regional with a #28 ranking. She is a two-time Big West Silver medalist in the event (151' in 2014 and 151'4 in 2015) and has won eight collegiate competitions in her career.
Rake will be the final UCSB athlete competing in the competition.
Check back with ucsbgauchos.com for full recaps and event results.
Photo Credits: Tony Mastres, Alyssa Razo, Steve Chen