Santa Barbara, Calif. - The Big West Conference Track and Field Championships are set to begin with the Multi-Events this Friday, May 4th at the Matador Track & Field Complex of host school California State University, Northridge. The Gauchos will be sending a total of five athletes to compete for the first half of the championships this weekend, including returning conference scorers JR Hope Bender and SR Jeff Lam. The men's decathlon 100m will kick off the two day competition at 12 p.m. on Friday and will conclude Saturday evening with the decathlon 1500m. The main program will continue next weekend starting on May 11th.
Big West Championship Home Page (Schedule and Live Results)
There will be free admission for the Multi-Events portion of the conference championship program, while the main program scheduled for next week will be priced at $25 for the full two days per ticket. Single Day admission will also be available at $15 for adults and $12 for youths, seniors, and students with school issued IDs.
Scoring for the multis will follow the traditional format of the top-eight placings with point values going 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1, which will be factored into the team totals for next weekend's main program.
"We've always expected our multi-event athletes to start us off on a favorable note," Assistant Coach Gray Horn remarked. "This year will be no different."
Leading the multis contingent will be JR Hope Bender and SR Jeff Lam. Bender has been riding a constant upswing since her indoor season campaign and is showing no signs of stopping. She has already made her presence on the UCSB All-Time List in multiple events, and has even placed 5th at the USATF Indoor National Championships and 12th at the NCAA Division 1 Indoor National Championships in the indoor pentathlon. On the current Big West Outdoor Performance List, she leads the ranks in the heptathlon with a score of 5725, a good 338 points ahead of her closest competitor. By no means will a victory be easy, but if there's anything to say about Hope heading into this weekend, it's that she's a clear favorite for the individual heptathlon title.
SR Jeff Lam's approach to this year has been more on the quiet side, opting to start a bit later in the season with a more cautious approach. Jeff has been slowly chipping away and perfecting his craft for this upcoming weekend, and the conference finally got a glimpse at what he was up to at the Bryan Clay Invitational where he scored 6741 points, adding a solid 111 points to his repertoire. He is currently seeded at fourth on the Big West Outdoor Performance List just outside of the top three, but the numbers indicate that he is only a mere 18 points behind the third seed. If Jeff plays his cards right, he could snag a podium finish come Saturday.
JR Aaron Cheek is next in line in regards to decathlon experience as a junior college transfer from Cuesta College where he was a CCCAA State Champion in the ten-event bout. Cheek has been methodically presenting himself in multiple events in just about every meet he's been to this year as a Gaucho, covering as many as four events at a time in a single meet. He is currently seeded eighth going into the championships, but his constant hard work and contributions to the team over these past few months could propel him farther up the scoreboard this weekend.
JR Puck De Ross comes into the meet as a last minute addition to the multi event roster. The junior has exclusively done only the high jump throughout the year with the occasional hurdle race sprinkled in here and there, so she will definitely be a wildcard this weekend with her last heptathlon mark dating back to last year. If she competes solidly on both days however, with her previous heptathlon experience she could sneak into scoring position.
Last but not least is FR Sam Pica. The young freshman is still relatively new to the ten event format, but he was able to get through his first one at the Bryan Clay Invitational relatively unscathed with a solid 6335 point scoring, slotting him into seventh on the Big West Outdoor Performance List. Like Cheek, he has also been covering plenty of events at every meet to gain that all important experience of handling the demanding workload of the decathlon, and it should pay dividends this weekend if he's firing on all cylinders.