Irvine, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Track and Field teams traveled down to Irvine for for an abridged conference preview by competing at the 25th edition of the Big West Challenge Cup. The women's team would take the team title over Long Beach State by merely 4.5 points, taking home the Challenge Cup victory for the third year in a row. The men's team improved upon last year's 3rd place finish by taking 2nd behind Cal State Fullerton 203.5 to 190.
UC Santa Barbara 185
Long Beach State 180.5
Cal State Fullerton 171.5
UC Irvine 118
Cal State Fullerton 203.5
UC Santa Barbara 190
Long Beach State 169.5
UC Irvine 67
"[I'd consider it a] good but not great day by both men and women," remarked Assistant Coach Darius Terry. "Despite a couple sub par performances, the men were able to improve upon their 2017 Big West Challenge performance and finish 2nd. The women were able to defend their title for the 3rd consecutive year while holding back some of our top athletes. This was a great stepping stone with a month to go until conference and I'm confident that we will be ready to contend for both the Men and Women's conference championship come May."
Fellow Assistant Coach Gray Horn would go on to add, "I think this victory gave us a lot of momentum and a lot of confidence. Knowing that we can come in clutch and win a close team race will be important when it matters most, at the Big West Championships."
SO Katie Camarena would take 2nd in the women's 1500m with a 4:34.20 clocking, the 2nd fastest time in her career. JR teammate Miranda Ross would take 4th not too far behind in a personal best time of 4:37.23.
SO Celeste Wilson would pull out all the stops today with double duty in both the women's steeplechase and 3000m. She would take victories in both events, the steeple 4 seconds off her personal best in an impressive frontrunning effort of 10:42.02, and the 3000m in a time of 10:15.74. JR Tori Yanco and FR Jasmine Rippey would capture 2nd and 3rd behind Wilson to make a clean sweep of the event, Yanco clocking 10:18.14 and Rippey garnering a new personal best of 10:18.16.
SO Daniel Mountcastle's newfound aggressive racing style paid off big time today with a huge 15 second personal best in the steeplechase to take 2nd in a time of 9:16.57. Mountcastle immediately stuck right onto the race leader's shoulder from the gun and never looked back, holding his own all the way to the last 150m before getting outkicked. SO Jack Rose would also find a personal best in this event taking 3rd in 9:35.27, slotting himself a qualifying time for the conference meet.
SR George Baier would take the win the 1500m with a time of 3:53.47, sticking close to the lead group and dropping a 58 second last lap to easily pull away in the final 300m. FR Thomas Wilfert and FR Alex Barr would finish 3rd and 5th in new personal best times of 3:54.66 and 3:56.86 respectively.
After running the first half of the season unattached, FR Jarett Chinn decided to introduce himself to the conference with authority, taking men's 800m wire to wire in a conference leading mark of 1:51.98. SR Patrick Bourke would finish right behind with a ferocious final 100m to take 2nd in a personal best clocking of 1:52.45. Bourke would go on to take the win in the 3000m just an hour later, demonstrating his newly patented closing speed with a time of 8:30.31.
Sprints, Jumps, Hurdles
JR Hope Bender would dominate both the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles on the day, winning by over 0.6 seconds in the 100m and nearly 4 seconds in the 400m with times of 13.86 and 58.68. She improves on her No. 2 all-time list clocking of 58.87 to inch even closer to alumni Amanda Rodriguez' 58.32 set back in 2013. SO Ruby Mandell would take 5th overall in the 400m hurdles behind Bender in a new personal best clocking of 1:02.95, nearly a whole second off her best that she set just last week at UCLA.
The women's long jump squad would showcase excellent depth today with nearly every single one entered jumping over 18 feet, highlighted by SR Kiely Gode's 19' 3 ½" mark to take the competition. SO Josephine Graber, JR Cassidy Peng, SO Sabina Dayal, and JR Brittney Johnson would all finish right next to each other from places 5th through 9th with Peng, Daya, and Johnson hitting personal best marks of 18' 3 ¾", 18' 3" 18' 0" respectively. Cassidy would also go on to take 2nd in the triple jump, also hitting a personal best in that event with a mark of 38' 9".
The women's 4x400m relay squad would just miss the win by just less than half a second to Long Beach State 3:43.08 to 3:43.55. Upon further inspection, their time of 3:43.55 is the fastest a Gaucho 4x400m relay team has run since 2013 when the school record was set.
SR Sike Azu-Irondi would take 3rd in the 100m and 2nd in the 200m today in an impressive double with times of 10.72 and 21.17, his 200 being his 2nd fastest clocking in his career as a Gaucho. FR Chris Howard would set a new personal best in the 100m with a time of 11.04.
SR Myles McDonald would return to the 400m hurdles for the first time in 2 years to take the win with a 53.60 clocking. FR Sam Pica would attempt the event for the first time in his athletic career to set a time 56.21, good enough for 6th overall.
SR Kayla Thayer would have a huge day by taking 1st in the shot put, 4th in the discus, and 5th in the hammer throw. She would set personal best marks in both the shot put as well as the discus with respective marks of 48' 3" and 154" 11 respectively. Her new best in the shot put now moves her up to No. 6 all-time in Gaucho history.
SR Kiely Gode would take 3rd just ahead of Thayer in the hammer throw with a mark of 166' 7". SO Samantha Ruggles would set a personal best in the hammer to take 9th in 150' 11".
JR Kordell Hampton would also embark on a triple performance of his own, taking wins in both the shot put and the discus as well as taking 3rd in the men's hammer throw. He would set a personal best marks in the hammer once again with a 193' 7" throw and in the shot put with a last effort throw of 53' 0". SO Chris Ruggles would hit past the 50' mark once again in the shot put to take 4th in 51' 5" while FR Eric Guerrero would take 5th in a new personal best of 48' 6 ½".
Lastly, True FR Chris Tarr would take 2nd in the men's javelin with a mark of 183' 11", just 2 feet off his personal best. This now makes 4 out of 5 meets where Chris has thrown 180 feet or farther in the javelin.
After four straight weeks of competition, the majority of the team will opt for a week of rest while a select few will travel back down to the Triton Invitational down in San Diego for those on the fringe of obtaining conference qualifying marks. After that will be a jam packed weekend as the Gauchos will be split between the Mt. SAC Relays as well as the Bryan Clay Invitational.