April 2, 2006
Mother Nature was not the only one breaking records in Northern California this weekend. Whereas the Bay Area experienced its wettest March in history (raining 26 out of the 31 days in many of the cities), the Gauchos would unleash their own onslaught on the record boards on the final day of the month. One Big West Conference Record, one school record, four UCSB all-time top ten marks and six personal bests would be re-written by the Gauchos on a chilly NorCal Friday evening.
Stephanie Rothstein (So.) highlighted the evening in one of the most impressive races in Gaucho history. In thirty-three minutes and twenty-seven seconds on the campus of Stanford University, Rothstein broke not only the UCSB 10,000m school record by a whopping minute and a half, but also took out the Big West Conference Record by over twenty seconds en route to obtaining the NCAA Championship Automatic qualifying standard (33:55.0) and the USA Track & Field Championship "A" qualifying standard (33:50.0).
Beginning at 9:43p.m. on Friday night, Rothstein stepped up to the line in a stacked Women's 10,000m. Surrounded by some of the best women in the United States, Rothstein placed herself in a new league just by showing up. With the gun firing, the women set off on pace to run under the NCAA auto qualifying mark, approximately 81.4 seconds per lap. Their first lap of twenty-five around the oval was a bit slow with Rothstein coming through 400m in 83.5, but the ladies got right back on to eighty points. She would come through the mile in 5:23 or just under eighty-one seconds per lap. It was on.
Although, she had a great 2005 Cross Country season racing unattached where she finished 5th at the Stanford Invitational and 10th at the USATF Club National Championship and holds a Big West Cross Country Championship on her belt, her track seasons have been plagued by injury providing only brief glimpses of her potential. Up until this season her 5000m best was only 17:04 and her 1500m speed was only 4:40. In preparation for this race Rothstein had run a 4:34 in the 1500m two weeks ago and had run some great practice sessions that showed her abilities, however with her 10,000m pace to be under her current 5k best, there were some unknowns that needed to be answered.
Thirty-three women began the race Friday night and Rothstein had moved up into the top twenty by the start of mile three. She would come through the 5k mark in 16:47, or seventeen seconds faster than her previous 5k best. This time she would have one more 5k to go. With the field stringing out, the top ten in the field would drop a few 78's to separate themselves. Rothstein would stay behind in a smaller pack continuing to hit 80's and 81's. Entering the critical 5th mile, she came through four miles in 21:28. It was now her and one other, Colorado's Christine Bolf, helping each other out as they made their move up to the front pack whom had settled back to 80's. Five miles went by in 26:50 and the light at the end of the tunnel was now a bit brighter as she began her last mile on pace to be well under the "A" standard for both NCAA's and USA's.
Four laps to go Rothstein would hit an 81 only to drop a 79 the following lap. She put a gap on Bolf and was now catching those in the front pack. Another 80 in her penultimate lap, she was in eleventh. 400m to go now. Rothstein would grab one more, running a 77 second final lap, a negative split 16:40 last 5k and finished 10th in a time of 33:27.85. Coincidentally she also ranks 10th in the country, the Stanford Invitational being the first major 10k qualifying opportunity for the distance athletes. Rothstein should maintain a position in the top fifteen for 2006 if the competition stays relatively the same to previous years. In 2005 it would have ranked her 6th amongst NCAA competition and 19th among Americans. The 2004 Olympic year, Rothstein's mark would have been 5th in the NCAA and 17th in the U.S.
Just like Mother Nature in the month of March however, the Gauchos were not done on Friday evening as others heated things up in the final weekend of Gaucho Spring Break 2006. Chris Ashley (So.) dropped another twenty seconds off his 5k mark in another exciting race, picking up an NCAA Regional qualifying mark en route to winning a strong section two of the Men's 5,000m events at the distance carnival. Starting just after the Women's 10k at 10:30p.m. Ashley would begin conservatively alongside teammate Micah Tyhurst (Jr.) as they ran in mid pack within a field of thirty-three. The two would come through the mile in 4:31 as the field systematically clicked away 67's and 68 second laps.
On lap seven, Ashley would make a move on the outside dropping a 66.6 placing himself within the top ten only to see the pack slow down to a 69 on lap eight as they pushed through two miles in 9:03 still racing just under the NCAA regional qualifying standard of 14:10. Subsequent 68's kept the field on pace, and then with two and half laps remaining, the 2005 Big West Cross Country Champion moved to the front of the field taking the pace down to 67 followed by a 65 second lap. He entered the bell lap followed closely behind by approximately sixteen closely bunched athletes from around the country looking to hit that coveted 14:10. Ashley went through three miles in 13:33 and now it was just a matter of would he hang on for the win.
Sean Ricketts, racing for the Asics Aggies was in second place right on his heels and known for his kick, but it was Ashley's night as he would cross the line number one, cheered on now by a raucous Gaucho crowd. His 14:03.65 ranks 2nd all-time at UCSB and leads the Big West Conference. Fourteen athletes would run under the NCAA Regional time and were separated by less than six seconds from each other. Tyhurst would fall back just a bit, running a good early season race for himself in 14:24.04. Last year at this meet he ran 14:38 to win section four of the 5,000m only to go onto a 3rd place All-Conference finish at the Big West Championships.
Just before these two late evening races other distance athletes from Santa Barbara sparked the Gauchos. First, in the Women's 5,000m "A" section Megan Lewis (Jr.) would toe the line against another national class field. With a personal best of 16:49 and a 6th place finish at last year's NCAA Regional Championships finishing one spot outside an NCAA Championships berth Lewis has been hungry for more in 2006. Setting out to hit 80.0 second laps to finish under the Regional mark of 16:52 she would begin by latching on to 78.'s the first two miles. She would go through the mile in approximately 5:14 and two miles in 10:33.
Slowing down a bit entering the third and final mile, Lewis would maintain 80-second laps on the critical ninth and tenth. She then fell another second to and 81 but pushed through the pain barrier hitting a 77 second last 400m, finishing with a 16:32.43, well under the NCAA Regional mark and fourth all-time in UCSB history. To put that in perspective, the three Gauchos ahead of her and the two behind her were all eventual NCAA Championship qualifiers placing her in good company on the UCSB record board.
Next up on Friday was J.D. Krawczyk (Jr.), the first Gaucho to tackle the 10,000m distance on Friday night. This J.C. transfer out of Santiago Canyon had never been below thirty-one minutes for 10k, but this particular evening, after a good 5k at the All-Cal Cup in early March where he ran a PR of 14:35, he would get after a sub thirty minute effort. The field of thirty-nine would begin a bit slow with an opening lap of 75, however would immediately get back to under 72 seconds pace per lap. Krawzcyk would go through the mile in 4:48 and just over 30:00 10k pace in 9:38 at two miles. His high school two mile personal best for Marina H.S. in Southern California was just under 10 minutes, he now found himself well under that with four miles remaining.
Now hitting 71 and 72 seconds lap after lap, he would hit 5,000m in exactly 15:00. His fourth mile would witness a drop in pace on his part and his fastest mile to this point in just under 4:44. Four miles in 19:08; five miles in 23:57, he was right on pace to finish under 30 minutes. Coming through the sixth mile in 28:49, Krawczyk moved into the top twenty and finish with a 68 second lap, coming across the line in 29:57, a huge personal best and the eighth fastest 10k in UCSB history.
In the morning sessions on Friday, the women notched one more record board altering performance when Hadas Moser (Jr.) dropped her 5k best dramatically in section three of the Women's 5,000m held at 9:30am on Friday morning. Entering the race personal best was a 17:27 ran in early March. On this cold Bay Area morning she would trade off running 80's and 81's to start coming through in 5:24 through the mile alongside teammate Seanna Martin (Sr.).
The pack would fall off pace just slightly from the first mile as they went through two miles in 10:52 and then Moser would get a brief scare in the third mile hitting an 83 and an 85 on laps nine and ten. She would bring it right back however with an 81 and closed it off with a 79, running just under the 17 minute barrier, in 16:57.81, taking 2nd, over five seconds faster than third place and the tenth fastest time in UCSB history, knocking Rothstein off the top ten list. Martin (Sr.) would also end well finishing 4th in a personal best mark of 17:08.17.
One of the most impressive performances for the Gauchos in one day, the distance crew left Stanford University leaving behind a large mark on the UCSB record board and a place on the Regional and National scene in this 2006 season. They will next look forward to the Big West Challenge Cup Friday evening at UC Irvine.