Santa Barbara, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Track and Field team will be leaping back to action this week at the Bryan Clay Invitational hosted by Azusa Pacific University. The meet will serve as the last big invitational of the season, with last minute qualifying marks for conference as well as regionals in mind for a good number of Gauchos going into the meet. This year's edition of the invitational will include multi events starting on Wednesday and concluding Thursday, with the traditional part of the meet commencing Thursday and concluding Friday with its reputable manifold of 1500m races that will go well into the night.
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Location and Directions
The Invitational well be held at Cougar Athletic Stadium on Azusa Pacific's East Campus on the corner of Citrus Avenue and Alosta Avenue with the main parking area located right next to the stadium. In order to get to the stadium from the 210 Freeway, take the exit at Citrus Avenue and travel north until you cross Alosta Avenue. From there you will turn right onto University Avenue to enter the campus, and the stadium will be on the north side of the parking lot.
Gauchos to Watch
SR Jeff Lam, SO Aaron Cheek, and FR Sam Pica will all be opening up with their 1st decathlon of the season starting Wednesday. The 3 have been hard at work covering multiple events at pretty much every meet since the beginning of the season, so now they will face their 1st big test to finally see how they stack up against the 10 event behemoth.
SO Daniel Mountcastle is coming into this meet fresh off a huge 15 second personal best in the steeplechase at the Big West Challenge Cup. He has set personal bests in 5 out of 5 meets so far in 2018, so he'll look to keep that streak going during Thursday night's 5000m.
FR Jarett Chinn made his Gaucho debut at the Challenge Cup in the 800m with an astounding wire to wire win. This week he'll have his work cut out for him as he attempts to run the 800m as well as the 1500m at Bryan Clay.
SR duo Patrick Bourke and George Baier are also set to run the 1500m. Bourke has been absolutely tearing up the distance events at the conference level with his conference leading 3:47.11 mark in the 1500m, while Baier has been slowly coming back to form evident from his recent 1500m win at the Challenge Cup. With guaranteed pacing for a majority of the 1500m heats throughout the night, they're all but guaranteed a fast time if they stick with the front groups.
SR Sike Azu-Irondi has been consistently applying pressure to both the school records in the 100m and 200m since the start of his season, putting up marks just outside record territory almost every time he toes the starting line. This could be his big break if the senior plays his cards right.
FR Eric Guerrero recently broke the 50 foot barrier in the shot put for the 1st time at last weekend's Triton Invitational, so he will be keeping his eyes on his compatriots JR Kordell Hampton and SO Chris Ruggles to fly even further down the sector.
JR Hope Bender, along with the decathletes, will start off Wednesday to compete in her first heptathlon of the year. Bender has been on a win streak lately in both the 100 and 400m hurdles and has been looking better with each passing meet. The Indoor National Second-Team All-American will most likely be pressing to see just how far she can push her heptathlon score past her No. 3 all-time mark of 5212 points.
SO Celeste Wilson and Katie Camarena are set for another go at the steeplechase Thursday evening. Wilson dominated the steeplechase at the Challenge Cup with a solo effort 10:42.02 and Camarena has set personal bests in both the 800m and 1500m earlier this month, so they're both in good position to possibly throw down something fast on the day.
SR Jenna Hinkle is slated to be in the fastest heat of the women's 1500m on Friday night and is prime to see if she can best her 4:16.62 school record from last year. She's coming off a solid 4:38.81 at the full mile distance from last week's Santa Barbara Elite Miles, so she could do some damage to the field if she's in the race with a lap to go.
SR Kiely Gode will be content with focusing only on the long jump with no hammer throw being contested at this meet. She came agonizingly close to the school record multiple times at the Challenge Cup, so the chase for the record will still be on come Friday.
Lastly, SR Kayla Thayer most recently set personal bests in both the shot put and discus during the Challenge Cup. She's been consistently right at or just off her personal bests throughout the season in pretty much every event she has competed in, so another solid performance this weekend may be on the schedule for the senior.