2016-2017 Cross Country and Track and Field Year in Review

2016-2017 Cross Country and Track and Field Year in Review

SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Another year has come to pass for the cross country and track and field programs at UCSB. The Gauchos have demonstrated a year of youthful progression as well as veteran experience, rewriting the school all-time lists and even boasting some second-team All-Americans along the way. Here is a quick recap of the 2016-2017 calendar years for both seasons. 

Men's Cross Country

Big West Scores

1)     Cal Poly SLO 18

2)     UC Santa Barbara 53

3)     Cal St. Fullerton 83

4)     UC Irvine 98

5)     Long Beach St. 163

6)     UC Davis 165

7)     UC Riverside 169

8)     Cal St. Northridge 202


The men came into the season with an air of uncertainty after graduating their top four scorers from last year's Big West Conference Meet, but they were able to rise to the occasion with a surprising second place team finish in the windy conditions of Kahuku, Hawai'i.


SR Adam Avila led the charge with a strong individual finish at 4th place, while SO Carlos Guijarro and JR George Baier also finished in the top 10, placing 8th and 10th respectively. JR Jackson Bright would finally come around to score for the first time at a Big West Conference Meet by placing 15th, three years after coming into the program as a walk-on. And redshirt FS Austin Lay would round out the scoring in his first conference meet at 20th.


Individually, Adam Avila would go on to place an inspiring 19th place finish at the NCAA West Regional Meet in 30:04 for the 10k course, earning All-Region honors by finishing in the top 25 out of 193 total runners from the western region.


Women's Cross Country

1)     Cal Poly 27

2)     UC Davis 72

3)     UC Santa Barbara 96

4)     Cal State Fullerton 97

5)     Hawai'i 124

6)     UC Riverside 129

7)     UC Irvine 197

8)     Cal State Northridge 224

9)     Long Beach State 246

Much akin to the men, the women also had to do some soul searching after losing their one, two, five, six, and seven scorers from the previous year, but they were able to pull it together to clutch out a third place team finish. JR Jenna Hinkle was rewarded a 2nd place individual finish after demonstrating a strong, consistent, front-running season, while SR Kelsey O' Connell came in shortly after to take 15th. SO Miranda Ross would be the key factor to the team scoring, passing two Cal State Fullerton runners within the last 200 meters, seizing 21st place. And lastly, the true freshmen duo of Celeste Wilson and Isa Marshall would step up to the plate for their first conference appearances, taking 29th and 32nd.
The momentum wouldn't stop there, as the women would take their confidence back to the mainland at the NCAA West Regional at Stanford, placing 14th overall out of 35 teams in the region. Their 14th place team finish could be a sign for things to come, as it was the highest team finish they've had since 2010.
Track and Field  
Big West Men's Scores

1) Cal State Fullerton 133

2) Cal Poly 128

3) Long Beach State 121

4) UC Santa Barbara 117

5) Cal State Northridge 106

6) UC Davis 80

7) UC Irvine 75

8) UC Riverside 58

Big West Women's Scores

1) Cal State Northridge 144

2) UC Davis 142.7

3) UC Santa Barbara 128.4

4) Long Beach St. 104.7

5) Cal Poly 84

6) Cal State Fullerton 63.2

7) UC Irvine 62

8) UC Riverside 58

9) Hawaii 29 

The men's and women's teams would go on to take 4th and 3rd at the Conference Championships, but their placings only tell part of the story. Both teams were ever so slightly out of contention for the team title, the men 16 points behind Cal State Fullerton and the women 15.6 points behind Cal State Northridge. Both teams were in the mix up until the final moments of the meet, with a wide array of individual performances worthy of plentiful praise.
UCSB would walk away from the meet crowning five Big West Conference Individual Champions, four of them winning their first titles of their college track career. 21 individuals would end up scoring for the men's side while the women would have 18 individuals scoring.
Big West Champions

Adam Avila - 3000m Steeplechase
Matthew Kuskey – Javelin
Hope Bender – 400m Hurdles
Jenna Hinkle – 1500m
Kelsey O' Connell – 10000m
All-Time Marks
The conclusion of the 2017 outdoor season would tally up a total of 35 new or improved all-time marks, 9 coming from the guys side and a whopping 26 from the women. The women's heptathlon and the women's 100m hurdles would tie for the most new or improved all-time marks at three women a piece, two of them (Tori Usgaard and Hope Bender) having improved marks in both events.
School Records
Three new school records were set over the course of the 2017 track season, while a fourth was tied at the very last minute at the conference meet.
JR Jenna Hinkle decimated the women's 1500m school record that was set no less than a year ago by UCSB alum Tori Tsolis by over three seconds, running 4:16.62 to win her heat at the Stanford Invitational.
JR Sike Azu-Irondi would do the unthinkable by breaking the school record in the 100m dash in his first 100m race of the season, blasting a 10.55 to break the previous record by .01 seconds. Former school record holder Sandy Combs had held the record since 1987, meaning Sike just prevented the previous record's 30th anniversary.
SO Kordell Hampton launched a huge one down at the 39th Annual San Diego Aztec Invite, throwing 182' 1" for the 2-kg discus. Hampton managed to break a record even older than the men's 100m record, with the previous discus record holder, Mike Wilmer, owning it with a throw of 177' 11" since 1984.
Lastly, SR Tori Usgaard surprisingly tied the school record for the women's long jump, leaping to 19' 5 ½" at the Big West Conference Championships. The catch was that she did not achieve that mark in the open long jump. Rather, she did it during the long jump portion of the heptathlon, meaning she tied the record after doing the first half of the hep the day prior.
NCAA West Regional Qualifiers
The Gauchos had 11 athletes qualify for the NCAA West Regional Meet by establishing a time, mark, or score within the top 48 in the West Region in their respective event. Below is a list of the qualifiers along with their best marks that would allow them into the regional meet.
Jenna Hinkle – 1500m, 4:16.62
Maxine Goyette – 3000m Steeplechase, 10:27.17
Adam Avila – 3000m Steeplechase, 8:57.70
Hope Bender – 400m Hurdles, 58.87
Shannon Trumbull – 400m Hurdles, 59.87
Tori Usgaard – Long Jump, 19' 5 ½"
Kordell Hampton – Discus, 182' 1"
Valerie Nestor – Hammer, 195' 8"
Stephen Leach – Hammer, 201' 4"
Matthew Kuskey – Javelin, 218' 8"
Chris Ross – Javelin, 202' 2"
NCAA Championship Qualifiers
Three Gauchos would advance to the NCAA Championships this year in Eugene, Oregon.
Tori Usgaard would punch her ticket early by scoring 5551 points in the heptathlon at the Mt. SAC Relays, a score good enough to finish just inside the top-24 in the nation which would allow her to compete at the national meet. Usgaard would go on to finish with Second-Team All-American honors, fighting against some stiff competition along with wind, rain, and even hail for a 16th place finish.
Matthew Kuskey would narrowly squeeze into the final qualifying spot at the regional meet in 12th place for the javelin. His first throw would be his best at 217' 8", but the anxious waiting that came afterwards was agonizing, as he had to wait until the conclusion of the competition to know he would be travelling to Eugene as well. Kuskey would also go on to earn Second-Team All-American honors by throwing 223' 11" for 15th place at the national meet, the second farthest he's ever thrown in his Gaucho career.
Jenna Hinkle would put on a show of tactical prowess at the regional meet in the 1500m, navigating two qualifying rounds to get a bid for nationals. With a second qualifying round filled with high class talent (three of which who would go on to place fourth, sixth, and seventh in the NCAA final), Hinkle would gut out a 62 second last lap to take an automatic qualifying spot of 4th place to advance to the national meet. She would go on to finish 10th in her preliminary round at NCAAs, putting her at 21st overall and becoming the first Gaucho ever to qualify for nationals in the 1500m.
What's Next
Another wave of Gauchos have set course to Santa Barbara for the 2017-2018 academic year. Check in later this week to see what the future may hold with a quick preview of some new faces to the roster!