Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Track and Field will be hosting the Big West Challenge Cup this Friday against Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, and UC Irvine under the lights of the Pauley Track Facility at the end of this week. The Challenge Cup will be entering its 26th rendition this year and it will act as a mini conference championship preview with four of the nine Big West schools competing in championship style format. Scoring for the meet will follow a 9-7-6-5-4-3-2-1 point scheme with two athletes per school counting per event. The meet will begin at 12 p.m. for field events with the men's hammer throw while running events will begin at 5 p.m. with the women's 4x100m relay.
From the 101 North Freeway, take the exit onto 217 West towards SB Airport and UCSB. Continue onto the 217 West until you pass Henley Gate. Turn right at the roundabout towards Mesa Road and continue all the way to Stadium Road. Turn left onto Stadium Road and the track will be right next to Lot 30.
From the 101 South Freeway, take exit 108 towards Storke and Glen Annie Road. Take a right onto Storke Road and continue all the way to El Colegio Road. From there, take a left onto El Colegio Road and then turn left onto Stadium Road.
Meet Day Parking
On campus parking is available by the track in Lot 30 off of Stadium Road by Caesar Uyesaka and Harder Stadium as well as Lot 25 across from the Student Health Center. An on campus map is available at this link for more information along with other lots that will be available that evening.
Gauchos to Watch
Junior Callan Cochran returns to the track after sitting out the last two months with a hamstring injury. He opened up to a huge mark back in mid-February at the Gaucho Round-Up when he blasted a wind-aided 10.51 (+2.6 m/s) for the 100m. He'll have some gracious company to welcome him back in the likes of Long Beach State's Kent Harris, the top returner from last year's conference meet taking second in the 100m, and the current top two in the conference rankings for this event, Fullerton's Mason Rollins and Rasaun House.
The men's 1500 will include current conference leader Jacob Smith of Cal State Fullerton and Irvine's Sam Ayala who's ranked third in this event. Sophomore Alex Barr will look to be the main Gaucho factor after his two 4:15.21 mile/3:54.70 1500m double from last week's UCLA Legends Invitational. The last time Barr and Smith clashed was back in 2018 at the conference track and field championships where Barr barely outleaned Smith in the 1500m 3:57.76 to 3:57.79 for fifth and sixth.
Redshirt freshman Brian Schulz will look to lead the men's 3000m after his 30:39.37 clocking for 10000m a week ago. Fullerton's Smith and Irvine's Ayala will be doubling back from the 1500m so Schulz will have the upper hand going into this event, but he'll be wary of Long Beach State's own freshman Tyler Spencer who clocked a 14:41.36 5000m at UCLA.
Senior Tyler Nelson will take to the 110m hurdles after clocking 14.53 and 14.65 in the past two weeks for the event. He'll have some good names to chase with Fullerton's Charles Kelly who's ranked third in the conference in 2019 at 14.29 along with Long Beach's Koty Burton and Irvine's Asa Allen, both of whom have podiumed at the conference meet in the past two years (Burton in 2017 and Allen in 2018).
Redshirt senior Kordell Hampton will be back on three event duties after competing in just the discus at last week's Stanford Invite. He currently still leads the Big West Conference in the discus with his 54.97m throw from the Aztec Invite, but he'll have a few competitors at his heels with Long Beach's Charlie Vernoy and Josh Carr, Vernoy having thrown 53.97 last week at UCLA.
The women's 800m and 1500m will showcase a colossal clash between redshirt sophomore Astrid Rosvall and Fullerton's Samantha Huerta, both of whom are ranked within the top three in the conference for the 800m and 1500m with both scheduled to double at the Challenge Cup. Huerta's the current conference leader in the 800m with a school record 2:04.33 clocking from last week's Titan Challenge meet on their home track, but this will be the first time these two will meet in the oval for the 2019 season.
Junior Katie Camarena will also be in the mix doing the 1500m/3000m double, having just clocked a season's best 4:30.30 at Stanford last week. She'll have quite the opposition in the 3000m with Fullerton's Trinity Ruelas and Alyssa Block, Ruelas running a 16:32.56 school record 5000m and Block running a 16:50.59 at the UCLA Legends Invitational. Camarena will also be on the lookout for Fullerton's Sandra Flores who solo'ed a 4:29.60 1500m at the Titan Challenge.
Senior Hope Bender will be back to handling multiple events sooner than expected this weekend as she's slated to run the 100m, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles, and high jump. With all those events happening within the span of an hour, she'll have very little time to rest in between events, but if all goes well, she'll be key to a team victory. Her biggest challenges will come in the 100m with 2018 conference runner up Courtne Davis of Long Beach State and fourth place finisher Azaria Hill of Long Beach.
Senior Cassidy Peng has been on a tear in the horizontal jumps as of late as she hit 12.05 in the triple jump at the Aztec Invitational and 5.92 for the long jump at UCLA. She's the top seed in the triple jump for the Challenge Cup but could find some opposition in Fullerton's Jelani Minix and Onyx Gaston who've hit respective marks of 11.88m and 11.70m for 2019.
Junior Josephine Graeber will join Peng in the long jump, hitting an identical mark last week at UCLA at 5.92m which put them at No. 4 on the UCSB All-Time List. Fullerton's Naiah Boardingham comes in at the top seed with a huge 6.19m jump back from 2017, but with a season's best mark of only 5.75m this year Graeber and Peng will look to capitalize for maximum points in this event.
Lastly, Junior Tori Palma will be headlining the shot put thanks to her 14.12m throw from last week at UCLA. It could come down to a two woman showdown with Irvine's Elizabeth Akindele who was third at last year's conference meet in this event. Having thrown 13.81m this year and owning a 14.35m personal best, it could be close if both athletes are on their A game.