Fullerton, Calif- The UC Santa Barbara Track and Field teams gave everything they had this weekend and more to produce 5 Big West Conference Champions and 15 Big West Conference Medals.
The women's team would hold the lead for the majority of the meet but would eventually finish 3rd, 14 points shy of champions CSU Northridge. The Men would also challenge for the title, falling short of champions CSU Fullerton by a similar narrow margin of 16 points.
The team standings do not reflect how much the Gauchos had to be proud of, as they recorded an unprecedented number of podium finishes, personal bests, and UCSB All-Time marks.
"I am so happy and proud of this team." expressed Head Coach Pete Dolan after the conclusion of the meet, "They fought through it, and accomplished something great."
"A lot of people don't know that our scholarships are funded at about 30% of NCAA allowable. Our facilities have been in great need of repair. But that did not stop our athletes from taking what was theirs on the biggest stage."
"Today was a real validation for our athletes to see all the hard work they've put in pay off at this meet. I think as a coaching staff, we were all surprised to see that we still held a lead with 30 minutes left to go in the meet." added Associate Head Coach Cody Flemming.
"We fell a little short at the end but this team has a lot to be proud of and I think this is one of the most over-achieving squads we have ever had. The individual peformances at this meet were as good as any meet we've been to, and it is going to be an exciting thing that we will build off of as we return a lot of the team"
"The future is bright."
2017 Gaucho Big West Medalists & Scorers
Women's 3000m Steeplechase
Silver SR Maxine Goyette 10:28.43
Bronze SR Kelsey O'Connell 10:39.41 PR (#6 All-Time)
6th FR Celeste Wilson 11:00.60 PR
Both seniors ended their conference steeple careers with an exclamation mark, getting the women's track events to a great start. FR Celeste Wilson would set a 5 second personal record.
Men's 3000m Steeplechase
Gold SR Adam Avila 9:00.43
6th FR Austin Lay 9:27.57
Adam Avila payed tribute to his long, decorated Gaucho career, showcasing frontrunning dominance as he has done all season. He would take the win by over 9 seconds and become the eighth Gaucho to win the event, fifth in the last eight years.
Gold SR Kelsey O'Connell 36:26.59
7th FR Isa Marshall 36:42.01
Kelsey O'Connell, in her last race in UCSB uniform, pulled off a seemingly impossible double, coming back from a Steeplechase PR and podium finish to win the 10,000m title as well. This was her final race in UCSB uniform, first time running the event, and it resulted in the fastest time in the entire conference this year.
Silver SR Bryan Guijarro 31:44.79
5th SO Carlos Guijarro 31:59.45
6th FR Youseff Baddour 31:59.77
Senior Bryan Guijarro, would had been sidelined with injury all season, was the champion in this event two years ago. He would prove he still had what it takes as he finished his 10,000m career with a Big West silver. His brother would follow close behind, with True Freshman Baddour succeeding at his first attempt at the distance.
Women's 1500m Run
Gold JR Jenna Hinkle 4:27.49
7th Katie Camarena 4:40.06
8th Miranda Ross 4:40.80
1500m school record holder Jenna Hinkle would bring the Gaucho gold for the second year in a row for this event. Her PR of 4:16.67 is currently ranked #26 in the NCAA.
Men's 1500m Run
Silver SR Andrew Verdin 3:54.43
4th FR Isaiah Lozano 3:56.34
Senior Andrew Verdin would finally earn the podium finish that he's worked his whole career for. He dived for the finish, only being outleaned by .09 seconds. True Freshman Isaiah Lozano would make an impressive Big West debut.
Women's 800m Run
Silver JR Jenna Hinkle 2:09.00
4th SR Kaitlin Large 2:11.88
Hinkle would come within .12 seconds of defending champion UC Davis. Senior Kaitlin Large would conclude a great Gaucho career, where she had worked to become the sixth girl in school history to break the 2:10 barrier.
Men's 800m Run
4th James Douglass 1:52.07 PR
Sophomore Douglass set a his first personal best of the season in the final of this race. He improved from 6th last year as a true Freshman to 4th this year, indicating an even brighter future ahead.
Men's 5000m Run
Bronze SR Bryan Guijarro 14:50.59
4th SR Adam Avila 14:51.21
6th JR Carlos Guijarro 15:01.81
Bryan Guijarro would finish one of the most decorated Gaucho campaigns, on the podium one last time in the 5000m. Avila would double back from a Steeplechase win to battle his long-time teammate down the final 100m. The younger Guijarro would indicate he was ready to fill his brother's shoes in future Big West championships.
Sprints and Hurdles
Men's 4x100m Relay
JR Decathlete Jeff Lam stepped up at the last minute to make this relay a success.
Women's 400m Dash
6th SR Betsy Armitage 55.39
Senior Betsy Armitage, in her final 400m dash for the Gauchos, would achieve the personal best she had been working for her entire career. She would improve by a whopping .41 seconds for the Final.
Men's 100m Dash
7th JR Sike Azu-Irondi 10.71
The Gauchos had not been represented in a Big West Conference 100m Final since 2011. Azu-Irondi set the UCSB School Record in his first race this season.
Women's 400m Hurdles
Gold SO Hope Bender 58.87 PR, #2 All-Time
Silver SR Shannon Trumbull 59.87 PR, #3 All-Time
In an electrifying Gaucho 1-2 sweep, Hope Bender and Shannon Trumbull both set personal records, UCSB top 3 All-Time marks, and broke the 60 second barrier for the first time this season. Bender came back from a dissapointing no-height in the Women's Heptathlon to Big West Champion in just one week. Trumbull had been inching closer to sub-60 all year and finally did it in this final. This is the first time the Gauchos had ever pulled this off in this event.
Men's 200m Dash
7th JR Sike Azu-Irondi 21.81
Azu-Irondi would finish his Junior season scoring valuable team points in both sprint events.
Women's 100m Hurdles
Silver SO Hope Bender 13.74 PR, #2 All-Time
4th SR Shannon Trumbull 13.84 PR, #3 All-Time
The talented duo of Bender and Trumbull also did not dissapoint in the short Hurdles race, as they both set new lifetime bests in wind-legal conditions. The 2-4 finish was an incredible feat, as they were the underdogs coming into the meet.
Women 4x400m Relay
These four women all threw down season-best relay splits to run the fastest relay time all year by over 3 seconds.
Men's Pole Vault
6th SO Zach Nichols 15-09.75
Zach Nichols tied his PR on the right day to end a successful Sophomore season. Nichols had been gaining momentum towards the end of the year and this was a huge stride forward from 15th in 2016.
Women's Long Jump
4th SR Tori Usgaard 19-04.25
5th JR Kiely Gode 19-01.50
Usgaard and Gode would score points in multiple events for the Gaucho women. Usgaard was the Silver medalist in the Heptathlon and scored points in the High Jump and 4x400m relay. Gode set a lifetime best in the Hammer as well.
Women's High Jump
8th Tori Usgaard 5-03.75
8th (tied) Natalie Aldrich 5-03.75
Usgaard nearly did another Hepthatlon for the second weekend in a row, demonstrating her invaluable contributions to the team in her senior year.
Women's Triple Jump
4th Jazmin Moss 40-06.75 PR, #4 All-Time
Moss has been relied upon in the Triple Jump her whole career by the Gauchos and in only her second Big West Championships, she did not dissapoint. Moss would take on a loaded field to break the 40-foot barrier for the first time, just 3 inches from the podium in a wind-legal mark.
Men's Hammer Throw
6th SR Stephen Leach 191-11
Leach would finish his final Big West Conference meet scoring for the Gauchos on his very first attempt in a loaded field, a huge success for the Senior team leader.
Men's Shot Put
8th Stephen Leach 52-10.25
Leach came within a foot of his PR to score points in one of the deepest Big West Shot Put fields ever. The Senior traded places with teammate Kordell Hampton as they pushed each other, like they have all season, one last time.
Women's Hammer Throw
Silver SR Valerie Nestor 195-08 PR, #2 All-Time
5th JR Kiely Gode 181-10 PR, #6 All-Time
Valerie Nestor would finish her Big West Conference career on the podium, with a personal best, becoming the second best Hammer thrower of all-time of the Gauchos. Her consistency, hard work, and mastery of the event was apparent throughout the competition of the veteran. Kiely Gode would rise up alongside Nestor, setting her second PR in two weeks!
Men's Javelin Throw
Gold SR Matthew Kuskey 218-08
Silver JR Chris Ross 202-02 PR
After Bronze in 2015 and 2016, Senior Matthew Kuskey did what he set out to do and put everything together to take Gold in the event he had dedicated his entire career towards. It was a mark that he had been hoping to throw all season and it inspired JR Chris Ross to set a new best by 7 feet to finish runner-up in the event. The Gauchos swept 1-2 indicated the long standing tradition of Javelin excellence at UCSB.
Men's Discus Throw
Silver JR Kordell Hampton 181-01
Hampton, UCSB School Record holder in the event, came within an inch of his best mark to grab Big West Silver. The Junior, on his second to last throw, found his place on the podium and notched his second-best career mark.
Final Team Results
1) Cal St. Northridge 144
2) UC Davis 142.70
3) UC Santa Barbara 128.40
4) Long Beach St. 104.70
5) Cal Poly 84
6) Cal St. Fullerton 63.20
7) UC Irvine 62
8) UC Riverside 58
9) Hawaii 29
1) Cal St. Fullerton 133
2) Cal Poly 128
3) Long Beach St. 121
4) UC Santa Barbara 117
5) Cal St. Northridge 106
6) UC Davis 80
7) UC Irvine 75
8) UC Riverside 58
Select Gauchos ranked in the top-48 of the NCAA West Region will compete in Austin, Texas for an opportunity to qualify for the NCAA Championships in Eugene. The final declarations will be released in the coming weeks.