May 31, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- Third place was the charm today, as Danielle Domenichelli and Chris Ashley each took third in the 5000m to automatically qualify for the NCAA Championships. Both of their times were personal bests as well. This will be the first trip to the big dance for both Domenichelli and Ashley.
The first Gaucho on the track this weekend was Danielle Domenichelli, who had a confident showing once again, sticking to the front of the main pack for most of the race. A group of four runners were able to break away pretty quickly, and for a while it looked like there would be seven runners scrambling to grab the fifth and final qualifying position. Patience paid off eventually, as Domenichelli and Oregon's Sarah Pearson began to break away from the chase pack and close the gap between themselves and the lead pack. A few runners faded as Domenichelli closed strongly, and she was able to move up to third place, nearly catching Oregon's Nicole Blood for the second position. Danielle's time was 16:28.18, a ten second improvement on her personal best and the fifth-fastest 5000m in UCSB history.
Minutes later it was Chris Ashley's turn to give it another go in the men's 5000m, having taken the dreaded sixth position at Regionals two seasons ago. The start was a little rough for Ashley, as he got bumped around a bit and found himself at the back of the pack for the first two laps. He eventually made his way around a few runners, getting into a better position and starting to find a groove with lap times around 67 seconds. The field started to thin out with 1200m to go, and Ashley stayed on target and was able to put a comfortable distance between himself and the fourth-place runner. He crossed the line in 14:01.59, an improvement on his personal best of almost two seconds.
The Gauchos were also in action at the shot put ring today, with seniors Matt Barkley and Jeff Stewart competing for the final time. Stewart set a seasonal best on his second throw, hitting 56'9.5" (17.31m). He ended up finishing in thirteenth place. Barkley's best throw was 52'6.5" (16.01m), which was good for twentieth place.
Tomorrow is day two of the West Regional, where four more UCSB athletes will compete. First up will be Jane Doolittle and Christina Nowak in the women's high jump, which begins at 2:00 p.m. The steeplechasers will hit the track later in the day, with Bethany Nickless running the women's steeple at 5:15 p.m. and Michael Powers running the men's steeple at 5:40 p.m.
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