May 13, 2005
The Gaucho Men walked away from Irvine at the Big West Championships in 2nd place with fifty points behind Cal Poly SLO who have sixty. Utah St. is in third with thirty-nine points. Going into Day 4 of the Championships the Gauchos will attempt to hold onto their position.
Opening the day for UCSB was the Javelin Throw at 1pm. Gabe Mann (Jr.) entered the competition as the favorite with a toss of 206-07 feet in late April. Never quite getting in the pop that he needs, Mann only got off a toss of 196-09 feet. Two big throws over 200 feet by McCoy of Long Beach and Poyner of Cal Poly SLO dropped Mann to third. Nonetheless this ex-Gaucho Baseball player finished All-Conference in his first season as a Javelin thrower.
The next final for the Gauchos came at 3:00pm with the Pole Vault where Sean Thomas-Bignami (Jr.) came in ranked 2nd with a 2005 vault of 16-06.75. A make at 15-07 and then at 16-0.75 kept him in the hunt for the championships with only two other vaulters clearing the height. Bj Vandrovec, the Big West leader entered the meet at 16-0.75 and failed to clear it on his three attempts.
Moving up to 16-06.75, a height Thomas-Bignami has regularly cleared in 2005, he easily went over the bar on his second attempt. The two remaining vaulters, both from Cal Poly SLO hit the bar on each of their attempts giving Thomas-Bignami the Big West Championship. He is the 2nd highest vaulter All-Time for UCSB.
In the 3,000m Steeplechase final at 3:00pm, Scott Brandos (Jr.) and Alex Cardiasmenos (Sr.) were set to roll. Brandos with the third fastest time would have to fight not only two Cal Poly runners ahead of him, but also two entered in their first steeplechase along with a tough Freshman from Utah St. With Bruce and Llamas of Cal Poly setting a fast pace early, the field had strung out through the first lap. Brandos systematically bided his time sitting in seventh behind Dunn and Dougherty of SLO, Strickland of Utah St. and Kluve of UC Irvine. Cardiasmenos would follow suit right behind Brandos.
Locking into a 9:00 minute pace, Brandos would slowly move through the field. With two laps to go, he found himself in fourth behind Strickland. Known for a vicious kick, Strickland would have to build a lead in order to attempt to beat him. Both runners were coming up on Llamas of Cal Poly SLO with a lap to go. A fast last 200m found Brandos finishing in 3rd ahead of Strickland by a second and just over a second behind Llamas. His time of 9:00.32 was a personal best and 4th All-Time for UCSB.
At 5:00pm the Men's Long Jump and Shot Put capped off the field event finals on Day 3 in Irvine. The Gauchos were not predicted to score on the Long Jump, however Ryan Donnelly (Jr.) had a different outlook on things. With a seasonal best of 22'11, Donnelly on his fifth jump soared out past his seasonal landing at 24'07 thrusting him into the lead and grabbing a Regional Qualifying mark.
Getting everybody riled up, the other jumpers in the field chose to create an exciting exhibition as three jumpers out leaped Donnelly in their final attempts. His fourth place finish nonetheless was a personal best and ranks 3rd All-Time for UCSB.
In the Shot Put the Gaucho throwers flexed some strength as they took the 5th-8th spots in the competition. Eugene Bradley (Jr.) was 5th; Ryan Lockner (Sr.) finished 6th, Scott Anderson (Fr.) came in 7th, while Matt Mettler (So.) was 8th. The top five throws were all Regional Qualifying marks, with the top two going over 60 feet.
In the last final of Day 3, the Men's 10,000m placed five Gauchos against some of the best Big West long distance athletes. Jeff Gardina (Sr.) was returning for UCSB in an event that he finished 3rd in a year ago. Micah Tyhurst (So.) had the fastest 5,000m time for the Gauchos at 14:17 and was also an athlete expected to finish near the top.
Much like the women's race, the field went out extremely slow. Hitting 80's for a few laps the large field maintained a close pack. Mile two began to see a drop in pace with a few athletes falling off. A pack of twelve or thirteen stayed intact as we moved through 5,000m. Art Avita (So.), Loren Bland (Jr.), Jason Boyce (Sr.), Gardina and Tyhurst all stayed in the front pack.
A drop in the pace by Grabow of Long Beach began to see a 70's and 71's making the lead pack only six now. Gardina and Tyhurst continued to fight inside the front pack. Avitia and Bland were not in charge of protecting the eighth and final scoring position. With a little less than two miles to go, Gardina and Tyhurst begun to fall off as a group of three continued to knock off 70's. Gardina and Tyhurst would go onto to work together maintaining 4th and 5th place, while Avitia pulled up for 8th. Gardina finished in 31:06.85, Tyhurst in 31:08.00 and Avitia with a 31:36.09.
Key qualifiers into Saturday's finals include three in the 800m, including returning All-Conference runners Ben Armel (Sr.) and Tetlo Emmen (Jr.) who finished 1-2 a year ago. Justin Coburn (Jr.) will also join them in the final. In the 400m, Max Bellissimo will be the 7th seed after qualifying this afternoon in 48.78. Out on the field, the Hammer will begin at 10am, with the Triple Jump, High Jump and Discus also being contested.