Santa Barbara, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara track and field team opened up their 2018 outdoor season with their annual tri meet against Westmont and Pepperdine. The UCSB men's and women's teams would end up taking victories over both schools, showcasing their abilities to start off the season on a promising note.
Meanwhile in Albuquerque, New Mexico, JR Hope Bender would demonstrate her own Gaucho spirit at the USA Indoor Track and Field National Championships in the pentathlon. She would return from the Albuquerque Convention Center with a 5th place individual finish in the pentathlon and a new personal best score of 4149 points.
Faith in the Process
Hope Bender would start off the holiday weekend early for the Gauchos in Albuquerque in one of the strongest national class fields she's ever faced, going up against the likes of 3-time world championship qualifier Erica Bougard and 2016 Olympian Kendell Williams. If there were any signs of nerves being the only collegiate in the field, they weren't apparent as the lone Gaucho set personal bests in three events on the day to move all the way up to No. 9 on the 2018 NCAA D1 Indoor Performance List for the pentathlon. If she stays within the top 16, she will have the opportunity to compete at the NCAA Indoor National Championships being hosted by Texas A&M at College Station, Texas.
"We're starting to see now what direction Hope is going," Assistant Coach Gray Horn said about the standout junior's performance. "We didn't really know how good she could perform until she was put in a high pressure situation like US Nationals, and it's exciting to see where she can go. Hopefully we get to see her in action at College Station [at NCAAs]."
Tri Meet Event Highlights
"Considering the lack of training facilities in recent months [due to the construction of the new track], these Gauchos came together on a beautiful day and really showed their capabilities," Head Coach Pete Dolan proclaimed on the team's performance. "It's a very satisfying way to start off the season."
School Record for Hinkle in the 3,000m
If SR Jenna Hinkle were looking for a challenge on the day, she would find it against the clock as she made it clear as to what her primary objective would be at the meet: take down 2011 alumni and former assistant coach Amanda Babineaux's 3000m school record of 9:27.50. Building almost a 20 meter lead by the first lap, Jenna would embark on a 7.5 lap solo expedition to take down the record in incredible fashion, chopping off 3 whole seconds to win in 9:24.41. This mark would serve as a new personal best by over 22 seconds. In addition, this performance came after Hinkle won the women's mile 2 hours prior.
Other Meet Highlights
SR Patrick Bourke would take dual victories in the men's mile and 3000m, covering the distances in times of 4:13.44 and 8:34.26 respectively.
SR Kiely Gode would take a convincing win in the women's long jump with a mark of 18' 9".
JR Alivia Schlueter would capture the win in the women's triple jump in 38' 2 ½".
JR Joshua Rennick would take the men's triple jump with a leap of 44' 9".
SR Kayla Thayer recorded a throw of 43' 9 ½" to take the win in the women's shot put.
SO Chris Ruggles would take a win in the men's shot put after a medical redshirt from last year, throwing a personal best of 50'.
SO Tori Palma won the women's discus in a mark of 138' 4", a new personal best.
JR Kordell Hampton would take dual wins in the men's discus and men's hammer throw, utilizing heavier implements in both events with marks of 164' 10 ¼" and 165' 7 ¾" respectively.
Lastly, SR Kiely Gode would pull off a victory in the women's hammer, dashing all the way from her last attempt in the long jump to make her flight in the knick of time with a throw of 169' 5 ¾".
Sprints, Hurdles, and Relays
Both the men and women would take wins in the 4x100m Relays with times of 42.28 and 47.42.
JR Brittney Johnson would win the women's 100m with a new personal best of 12.26.
SR Morgan Simpson recorded a new personal best of 56.53 in the women's 400m to take the victory.
FR Stephen Garcia would make his UCSB debut with a win in the men's 400m with a time of 49.69.
And to close out the meet, both the men's and women's 4x400m Relay teams would take victories in times of 3:18.54 and 3:52.30.
UCSB will be back at it in two weeks time to go up against the likes of conference rival UC Irvine and UC San Diego in another tri meet at Westmont.