Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Track and Field will be travelling to Azusa this week to compete 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 and regionals on the line as the Gauchos slowly approach postseason competition. Setting a record number of nearly 4,800 entries this year, the invitational will foster a highly competitive environment starting with the multi event groups Wednesday morning, followed by a long distance event carnival Thursday, and the main program on Friday, making it a long but well invested three days of competition.
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Tickets will be priced at seven dollars per day (cash only) for a standard adult ticket. Students with proper school ID, 65+ seniors, military with proper ID, and alumni tickets will be sold at five dollars, while children age five and under will receive free admission.
The invitational will be held at the Cougar Athletic Stadium on Azusa Pacific University's East Campus located at the corner of Citrus Avenue and Alosta Avenue. To get to East Campus and the stadium:
Take the 210 Freeway to Azusa and exit at Citrus Avenue.
Travel north on Citrus and cross Alosta Avenue
Enter the campus by turning right (east) on University Avenue just south of Foothill Boulevard.
The stadium will be located on the north side of the parking lot.
Parking will be available on the university's East Campus next to the track in Lot A. If spaces become limited, overflow parking will be available in two locations: Azusa Pacific West Campus Lot H (Free), and at Citrus College (five dollars per vehicle). A campus map can be accessed at this link.
Gauchos to Watch
Senior Tyler Nelson and sophomore Sam Pica will start things off bright and early at 9 am Wednesday morning to put together another high quality decathlon after they set personal best scores of 7336 and 6899 respectively back in late March at the Westmont Collegiate Classic. With a plethora of decathletes competing at this meet, Nelson and Pica will have some pre-conference clashes in the likes of UC Davis' Kyle Clancy, the 2018 defending conference champion in the decathlon and high jump, and Drake Foote who placed fifth in the decathlon at last year's conference meet. Nelson will have the upper hand thanks to his better total score topping both Clancy and Foote, but anything can happen in the ten event gauntlet over the course of two days.
Thursday night will feature a solid contingent in the men's 5000m with freshman Jack Landgraf and sophomores Brian Schulz and Nick Randazzo toeing the line under the Cougar Athletic Stadium lights. Schulz is well overdue for a new personal best after running 14:30.22 back in early March, and he still appears to be in fine form with his near solo 8:34.40 3000m winning effort at the Big West Challenge Cup. Randazzo also appears to be coming back slowly but surely with an 8:37.57 clocking at the Challenge Cup after sitting out for two months with injury, and Landgraf is fresh off a huge 15 second personal best in the steeplechase in 9:16.88, so they too will look to lower their personal bests as well if they're on point come race time.
Redshirt junior James Douglass and freshman Ian Hurlburt took first and second place at the Challenge Cup in the men's 800m in 1:54.64 and 1:55.40 respectively, so a more time centric focus to this meet may net them some faster times during their heats Friday afternoon. They'll be keen to aim for the Big West Conference qualifying mark of 1:54.00.
Senior Kordell Hampton will be competing in the discus this Friday after regaining some momentum at the Big West Challenge Cup with a season's best mark of 55.24m. Reworking his technique for the vast majority of the season, Kordell may slowly be finding his groove as he aims to hit marks farther down the infield.
Freshman twins Peter and Graham Michiels will compete in the high jump this Friday after taking third and fifth at the Challenge Cup. Graham finally able surpass Peter this past weekend at the UCSD Triton Invitational with a 2.01m jump to Peter's 1.96m mark, so he might look to even up their head to head results as they continue to push each other to higher bars.
Senior Hope Bender will return to the heptathlon at the start of Wednesday's multi-event focused day, her last full heptathlon coming from last year's Division 1 NCAA Outdoor Championships where she finished 12th. Like Nelson and Pica, she'll face some opposition from an Aggie with UC Davis' Erinn Beattie in her group. The two have had plenty of history in the past four years in the Big West Conference with Bender taking the upperhand last year at the conference meet where she finished first with 5561 points while Beattie took second just over 100 points behind in 5458. A national class high jumper in her own right with a second place finish at the Division 1 NCAA Outdoor Championships last year, Beattie was able to best Bender in their last clash at the NCAA Indoor Championships back in early March, taking fourth overall while Bender took sixth. Bender has the better score total from last year's Bryan Clay Invitational with a 5725 point best, but one thing's for sure: whoever comes out on top at this meet will no doubt be considered the favorite for the conference title this year.
Per usual, senior Cassidy Peng will be tripling again in the pole vault, long jump, and triple jump for the Friday portion of the meet. She put on her greatest triple in her Gaucho career at the Challenge Cup where she earned Big West Conference Field Athlete of the Week honors for her 3.80m vault, her 12.05m triple, and her 5.92m long jump. Joining in the vault will be sophomore Kyra Sales who just nabbed a Big West Conference qualifying mark last Saturday at the Santa Barbara City College Easter Open where she hit a 3.65m personal best.
Freshman Chloe Kimes will tackle the 400m hurdles again after taking second behind Bender at the Challenge Cup where she was just off her 1:03.05 best with a 1:03.18 clocking. She's shown a balanced level of consistency in this event clocking either 1:03 or 1:04 seconds since February.
Junior Tori Palma will focus on the discus and shot put after two straight weeks of solid throwing, hitting 13.51m for second place at the Challenge Cup and 13.66m at the Triton Invitational in the shot this past weekend.
The 800m crew will feature sophomores Maddie Meade and Bronwyn Bunnell. Bunnell set a personal best at the two lap distance two weeks ago with a 2:14.39 while Meade has been hovering between 2:12 and 2:14 for the past few weeks.
To close out the meet Friday night, the women's 1500m will feature junior Katie Camarena after her 4:29.73/10:04.92 double at the Challenge Cup. She set her personal best in the 1500m last year at this meet with a 4:26.21 clocking that put her at No. 10 All-Time for that event at the time. She may rekindle that magic once again as she's gotten faster in the 1500m with each meet this season. Sophomore Chloe Cox will look to lower her 1500m best as well as she's been on a hot streak since late March's UCLA Invitational, debuting in 4:43.93 in the event along with her head turning 10:56.32 steeplechase clocking at the Challenge Cup, a 30 plus second personal best from her 11:27.34 debut at the Aztec Invite.