Los Angeles, CA- The UCSB Track and Field teams got to work this weekend to face national-class competition at the Stanford Invitational and Bob Larsen Distance Carnival & Bruin Legends Invite at UCLA.
New Gaucho All-Time Marks
Jenna Hinkle 4:16.62 1500m (#1, School Record)
Hope Bender 13.84 100m Hurdles (#2)
Sike Azu-Irondi 21.47 200m (#5)
Kelsey O'Connell 10:39.56 Steeplechase (#6)
Friday night was highlighted by a huge personal best 1500m performance by Jenna Hinkle at the Stanford Invite. The Junior would win the second-fastest heat of the event in 4:16.62, besting the previous UCSB School Record of 4:19.02 set by Tori Tsolis last year.
"Jenna executed the race plan perfectly. She got off the line well and positioned herself in the top half of the pack. She remained patient and made a strong move to lead with 300m remaining in the race and was able to maintain that pace to the finish. It was exciting to watch and she showed that she is capable of competing with the best 1500m runners in the NCAA." reflected Coach Darius Terry after her race.
Hinkle's performance tops the Big West Conference and is now among the top 10 marks in the nation so far this season.
Down at UCLA, the rest of the distance squad took to Drake Stadium with the same mindset. The meet got started with SR Andrew Verdin setting a season best of 3:52.31 in the 1500m. Verdin would make a big move to take over the lead with 200 and nearly held it to the end.
In the 800m, FR Katie Camarena would win her heat in a time of 2:15.11.
The women's 3000m Steeplechase was a notable event for the Gauchos, as SR Kelsey O'Connell would accomplish a breakthrough in her signature event. The race started out fast thanks to a loaded field, and O'Connell would respond by tucking herself in the front pack through the first few laps. The senior would carry this momentum into the final mile and found herself running far under 10:56 pace, her previous personal best. Her time of 10:39.86 would be a 17-second PR and place her #6 on the Gaucho All-Time list.
O'Connell would lead be a trio of big performances by SO Tori Yanco, FR Gwendolyn Hurtado and FR Celeste Wilson. Yanco would run 11:09.02 in just her 3rd career steeple. In their debuts, Hurtado would notch an excellent 11:12.27, and Wilson 11:20.83.
The night came to a conclusion with a number of personal bests in the 5000m run. FR Isa Marshall shaved over 30 seconds off of her personal best with a 17:40.83 clocking. Fellow freshman Youseff Baddour executed a strategic race to break the 15 minute barrier for the first time, logging 14:55.92. And SO Carlos Guijarro once again put forth a great effort in his second 5000m of the season. Committing to a lead pack that was on a mission to break 14 minutes, Guijarro split through 2 miles in 9:03. He would feel the effects of this hot pace the last mile but would hold on to still achieve a 5 second PB of 14:21.16.
The remainder of the crew competed Saturday for the Bruin Legends Invitational.
SR Matthew Kuskey got the meet started with a win in the Men's Javelin. He rallied late with a 210'04" on his final throw to take over the lead. SO Nemo Howe made his season debut with a 193'09" throw for 3rd.
SO Alanna Epps set a career best in the 200m dash with time of 25.10.
JR Sike Azu-Irondi faced a deep field of 9 in the Men's Invitational 200m that resulted in two athletes breaking 21 seconds. He was carried to a new personal best of 21.47, that moves him up to #5 All-Time in the event.
SO Hope Bender executed a strong race and new personal best in the 100m Hurdles with a 13.84 performance. The heptathlete improves upon her #2 All-Time mark by .05 seconds. Decathlete Tyler Nelson tied his best of 14.78 in the Men's 110mH event.
Bender came back to open up her season in the 400m Hurdles with a 60.78. In the heat before hers, SR Tori Usgaard set a full second personal best in the event with a 62.49.
The Men's Long Jump was led by SO Joshua Rennick. Rennick would clear a bar of 6'07", the highest in his career.
Multi-event specialist Usgaard came back to win the Long Jump with a leap of 18'9.25".
SO Jazmin Moss set a season best and first jump this year over 39 feet in the Triple Jump, notching 39'0.5".
And highlighting the throws, JR Kayla Thayer set a huge personal best of 151'7.25" in the Discus, improving upon her previous best by nearly 5 feet.
The Gauchos will head to Long Beach State for the traditional Big West Challenge Cup, a competitive scored meet between Long Beach State, CSU Fullerton, and UC Irvine on April 7th. The women will be looking to defend their title while the men will hope to come back from a narrow 2nd place loss last year.