Northridge, Calif. - The UC Santa Barbara Track and Field Team duked it out at the Big West Conference Championships this past weekend to great effect, taking home six individual Big West Championship titles with a grand total of 18 top three medallists. The women's team would engage in a back and forth slobberknocker against Long Beach State throughout the course of the meet, trading the point lead all the way up until the final event where they would just pull away from Santa Barbara by a mere two points, 122 to 120. The men would show a solid effort throughout the course of the meet to finish fourth overall behind the likes of Cal St. Fullerton who took the team title on the men's side.
"Each year we approach conference with assurance that the Gauchos will step up on the day, and it definitely showed here," remarked Assistant Coach Darius Terry. "We saw six athletes claim individual titles (accumulating eight titles in total) and we scored well on both sides with the women almost clenching a team title. It's unfortunate to lose by such a small margin, but I'm proud of their efforts over these past few days."
Coach Terry would go on to add, "They were without a track until March. The sprinters had to workout on the grass fields. Distance had to workout on the dirt trails. The throwers and jumpers had to trek all the way down to Westmont two to three times a week just to get a throw session in. They could've made excuses but they made it work. The Gauchos can walk away from this meet knowing they worked hard and put it all out there."
1. Long Beach St. 122
2. UC Santa Barbara 120
3. Cal St. Northridge 101
4. Cal St. Fullerton 98
5. Cal Poly 95
6. UC Irvine 90
7. UC Riverside 75
8. UC Davis 73
9. Hawaii 44
1. Cal St. Fullerton 154
2. Long Beach St. 136.5
3. UC Davis 121
4. UC Santa Barbara 112.5
5. Cal St. Northridge 108
6. Cal Poly 100
7. UC Irvine 44
8. UC Riverside 43
Individual Champions and Scorers
Women's 3000m Steeplechase
4th Katie Camarena 10:43.31
5th Celeste Wilson 10:50.02
The two sophomores would hang on to the leaders as long as possible before rallying on the final lap to score in the top five. Camarena would score for the first time in this event while Wilson would improve on her sixth place finish from last year.
Men's 3000m Steeplechase
4th Daniel Mountcastle 9:18.06
7th Nick Randazzo 9:38.97
8th Jack Rose 9:52.64
As Mountcastle has done all year, he went straight to the front pack and held on for dear life. He was rewarded with a respectable fourth place finish while Randazzo and Rose stuck with the second group and fought well to take the last two scoring positions.
1st Jenna Hinkle 4:28.56
4th Katie Camarena 4:33.77
Hinkle would defend her conference handily title by sitting on UC Riverside's Faith Makau throughout the race until pulling away with ease the last 200. Camarena would take another fourth place following right on her senior teammate's shoulder until the final lap.
1st Patrick Bourke 3:55.20
3rd George Baier 3:57.17
5th Alex Barr 3:57.76
7th Thomas Wilfert 3:59.09
The gamesmanship in this final was apparent with no one willing to take the lead, the first lap being covered in a pedestrian 68 seconds. The Gauchos would remain in the back of the 12 man pack until 500 to go where they would begin to establish position for the last lap. Once in front, Patrick Bourke would utilize his signature burst of speed to obliterate the final 100m to win in 3:55.20, covering the last lap in 55 plus seconds. Baier would hang on to finish third holding off a hard charging Alex Barr who would capture fifth. Thomas Wilfert would round out the scoring to finish seventh, completing an impressive one-three-five-seven placement for UCSB.
2nd Jenna Hinkle 2:08.97
Hinkle would manage her energy well in this event by taking on even splits and saving energy for the last 100m where she would nip UC Riverside's Makau right at the line for second.
1st Jarett Chinn 1:51.04
Coming into the final as the favorite, the young freshman would take the race by the scruff of the neck, leading wire to wire to hold off UC Riverside's Heinrich Van Niekerk by .14 seconds. His head rocking and rolling from side to side and the pack slowly closing in, Chinn would muster up one final surge on the homestretch, collapsing over the finish line with nothing left in the tank to take the victory.
1st Jenna Hinkle 16:47.43
4th Katie Camarena 16:56.33
Hinkle and Camarena would immediately separate from the field closely shadowing UC Riverside's Weslie Pearce, who won the steeplechase 24 hours earlier, and Cal Poly's Miranda Daschian. Hinkle would valiantly hang on throughout the course of the race, taking the reins in the final lap to hold off Daschian by just a second to take another conference title, completing an incredible triple performance. Camarena would fade back in the final two laps but would remain focused on the task at hand and rally to take another fourth place finish, placing fourth in all three events she entered in at this meet.
2nd Daniel Mountcastle 14:44.77
3rd Patrick Bourke 14:44.98
Bourke would settle right behind eventual winner Swarnjit Boyal of Cal Poly within the first 100 meters of the race while Mountcastle slotted himself in the back of the massive peloton right as the starting gun went off. With Bourke leading the way, Mountcastle would slowly pick off nearly entire field as the race continued, moving all the way up to fourth place by the bell lap. In what was possibly the most unprecedented performance on the men's side, Mountcastle would absolutely demolish his final 400, catching his senior teammate in the final 50 meters and finishing just half a second behind Boyal, almost causing one of the biggest upsets at the conference meet and setting a new personal best in the 5000m by five seconds.
Sprints and Hurdles
Women's 100m Hurdles
3rd Hope Bender 13.73
Starting off her first of three events on day two, the junior would get out well and put on a display of clean hurdling to take another podium finish.
6th Shamara Carney 56.01
A calm and collected Carney would hold her position steadily throughout the course of the one lap race. Slightly slowing on the homestretch as her muscles began to tire, Carney would maintain her form and drive to the finish to score her first ever individual points at the conference meet.
Women's 400m Hurdles
1st Hope Bender 58.02
7th Ruby Mandell 61.71
Her second event of the day, Bender approached this race just as a defending champion would by confidently pulling ahead throughout the course of the race. With the individual title all but sewn up, there was one last thing that had to be done: the 400m hurdles school record had to be taken down. As Hope crossed the line, knowing full well she won the title, she immediately turned to face the clock. Her name would flash onto the electronic timing board displaying a new school record of 58.02 seconds. Bender would immediately collapse in sheer joy and slap the track with her hands in celebration, claiming her first ever UCSB school record.
After already setting a personal best by almost a full second during the preliminary rounds the day before, Mandell was able to chip away at her best once again to take 7th in the final, her first time scoring at the conference meeet.
Men's 400m Hurdles
1st Myles McDonald 51.76
After two previous efforts at the conference meet, there was nothing that senior Myles McDonald wanted more than an individual title, and he made it clear as the race started that he would not be denied victory. He would aggressively take the lead on the stagger on the backstretch, his brow furrowed in concentration to make sure he would have the step advantage in the closing stages of the race. Clearing the final hurdle, Myles would dig deep to charge through the line to take the victory, finishing just .21 seconds off his own school record.
Women's 4x400m Relay
The ladies would put up an excellent show to finish on the podium for the first time since they finished second all the way back in 2013, the year they set the school record. Hope Bender would put a cap on her amazing conference showing with an unofficial 53 plus second anchor leg.
Men's 4x400m Relay
In brilliant fashion, the men would monitor their splits like clockwork, the first three legs all splitting 48 and McDonald anchoring in 46 to take second. Like the women, they would be on the podium for the first time since 2013.
Women's Triple Jump
7th Cassidy Peng 11.77m (38' 7 ½")
After taking seventh in the pole vault on day one, Peng would came back for another in the triple with a solid second attempt jump.
3rd Kayla Thayer 53.73m (176' 3")
6th Kiely Gode 51.81 (169' 11")
In a clutch sixth round throw, Thayer would move from sixth all the way to her first ever podium finish with a personal throw by over two meters. Gode would pick up a solid sixth after already scoring in the long jump the day before with a solid mark in the third round.
1st Chris Ross 61.92m (203' 1")
3rd Chase Tarr 57.68m (189' 3")
If there's one thing to be said about senior Chris Ross, it's that he knows how to throw when the pressure's on. For the second year in a row, Ross would surprise the crowd with an incredible final round throw. This year however instead of second it would be good enough to win the competition, setting a new personal best by almost a meter. Freshman Chase Tarr would follow suit with his final throw being his best as well, moving up to the podium after trailing in seventh the majority of the competition.
Women's Shot Put
4th Kayla Thayer 13.82m (45' 4 1/4")
5th Samantha Ruggles 13.61m (44' 8")
After just sneaking through the prelims to qualify for the final in ninth, Ruggles would set a personal best by over half a meter to jump up to fifth place, capitalizing off her personal best she set in the discus just the day before. Thayer would come back from the hammer earlier in the day to solidify her placing with an exceptional toss in the fifth round. With this, Thayer would walk away from the meet scoring in three different throwing events, a true testament to her versatility in the ring.
4th Kordell Hampton 52.78m (173' 2")
Kordell would establish himself early with a decent starting mark in the first round of throwing, but would unfortunately not improve any further as the rounds went on. Nonetheless, his first throw was good enough to hold on for a fourth place showing.
With the conclusion of the conference meet, the majority of the Gauchos will finally get a chance to relax and take some time off before they begin their summer preparations for next year's training cycle. A select few however will be travelling to the NCAA West Regional Meet in Sacramento in two weeks with times/marks that meet the regional qualifying standards (being within the top-48 of their respective event in the West Region). Final declarations for the Regional Meet will be released in the upcoming weeks.