Austin, TX - The 2017 NCAA West Regional Championships produced a number of courageous performances from the Gauchos, resulting in two National berths to Eugene, Oregon for the 2017 NCAA National Championships. Matthew Kuskey represents the first Javelin thrower to make the big dance since Thomas Gore-Shreck in 2015. Jenna Hinkle will be the first Distance runner to represent the Gauchos at NCAA's since Ryan Martin in 2012. They will be joined by Tori Usgaard who qualified in the Heptathlon earlier this season.
JR Jenna Hinkle, 1500m 4:29.22 (8th)
School Record holder Hinkle made it through two rounds of qualifying to earn her spot at Hayward Field. On Thursday afternoon, the Junior ran 4:24.45 to place 4th in her heat of 12, claiming an automatic spot to the quarterfinals on Saturday.
With just two days to recover, Hinkle was now lined up at 4:30 PM on a hot and balmy Saturday afternoon against some the best distance runners in the nation. The race went out at a pedestrian 78 second pace for the first two laps, indicating it was about to become a kicker's race. After a slightly faster 3rd lap (70s), it was apparent that the top 5 qualifiers would have to make it happen over the final lap. Hinkle relied on her speed and strength to run the last quarter in 62.05 seconds, ensuring 4th place and an automatic spot to Nationals.
SR Matthew Kuskey, Javelin 217'8" (12th)
Matthew Kuskey would compete in the first event of the meet and achieved his best mark on his first throw of the meet. On his first throw out of three, the Senior would release a 217-8, placing him 7th at that point in the competition. Knowing that he needed top 12 and there were more throws and throwers to go, Kuskey anxiously awaited his destiny after not surpassing this mark with his final two attempts. Finally, after the conclusion of the competition, it was announced that he had held on for the final qualifying spot, 12th, punching his ticket to Eugene.
JR Kordell Hampton, Discus 180'0" (14th)
School Record holder Hampton found his groove on his second attempt, coming within a few inches of his personal best. This represented the 3rd time this season the Junior has thrown 180 feet or farther, indicating great high-level consistency at his event. Hampton entered the competition ranked 22nd and finished 8 spots better, indicating big things to come.
SR Adam Avila, Steeplechase 8:59.27 (16th)
5th year Senior Adam Avila has enjoyed being part of 2 Big West Cross Country Championship teams and being crowned the 2017 Big West Champion in the 3000m Steeplechase. Entering this competition ranked 34th, Avila put together an excellent race, fighting and staying with the leaders for the majority of the 7.5 laps. Needing top 3, Avila came close, kicking it in to 5th in his heat and 16th overall. Last time Avila raced in Austin, he succumed to the tough conditions, but this time overcame them and excelled, a testament to the Senior's storied Gaucho career.
JR Chris Ross, Javelin 195'8" (33rd)
Transfer Chris Ross has had an impressive debut season with the Gauchos, qualifying to Regionals for the first time after a breakthrough throw at the 2017 Big West Championships. Entering this meet ranked 53rd in the Region, Ross did 20 spots better, demonstrating that the future of UCSB Javelin crew is bright.
SR Tori Usgaard, Long Jump 19'2" (35th)
The Senior improved from her 40th ranking entering the competition. She will now be gearing up for her Heptathlon at the 2017 NCAA Championships after qualifying as the 24th best Heptathlete in the country after scoring 5551 points at the Mt. Sac Invite.
SR Shannon Trumbull, 400H 61.86 (35th)
Trumbull was ranked 39th and finishes 35th in her final hurdles race in Gauchos uniform. In her breakthrough Senior year, Trumbull set new personal bests at nearly every meet she competed in. She will graduate being the #2 best 100m Hurdler and #3 best 400m Hurdler in UCSB Track and Field history.
SR Stephen Leach, Hammer 187'2" (41st)
Team leader Stephen Leach embodied hard work and perseverance over his Gaucho career, making significant jumps in every throwing event each year he competed. In his signature event, the Hammer throw, Leach improved nearly 5 meters each year. His greatest moment came when he smashed the 200 foot barrier this season with a 201-4 mark at the Highlander Challenge. This would earn him this first Regional showing and his legacy will inspire a generation of UCSB Track and Field throwers to come.