April 2, 2005
The men came up short in today's close team battle at the Big West Challenge Cup in Long Beach, CA. On paper the title was virtually up for grabs, but a few setbacks in key races threw the momentum in UC Irvine's favor, defending their Challenge Cup from 2004. The Gauchos finished in third with 154 points while Irvine outscored Long Beach St. by two points 185-183 and Cal St. Fullerton who finished fourth with 120 points.
The Big West Challenge is a quad meet in which only two finishers per team can score in any given event. This scoring methodology does not allow for any given team to sweep an event with many athletes, thus making the team more important in a sport where individuals are more often celebrated than the whole.
Coming in hoping to redeem themselves from a close early season loss to Irvine, the men's best today was only good enough for a third place finish. The Gaucho throwing squad threw everything they had at a tough Long Beach St. squad. In the men's shot put, freshman Scott Anderson came up big in his first competition for UCSB by winning with a toss of 53'09.75", placing 7th on the Gaucho All-Time list. In the Javelin, Gabe Mann, the Big West Conference leader, won his first Challenge Cup title with a personal best throw of 197'02".
Out in the Hammer Ring it took an NCAA Regional Qualifying mark just to crack the top four, with Eugene Bradley heaving the hammer 197'02" to place 2nd by only four inches. NCAA Regional Qualifying marks are based off of the top 100 marks in a given event from the previous year, placing the athletes who qualify in a small space atop NCAA Track & Field. The Gauchos currently have ten athletes who have reached such a mark in 2005.
In the pole vault, Sean Thomas-Bignami came into today's meet with a personal best 6 inches shy of the NCAA Regional mark of 16'06.75" while being ranked 2nd in the Big West behind a Fullerton vaulter by only two inches. Both went head to head and with Fullerton clearing 16'00.75, Thomas-Bignami answered right back clearing his personal best. Then just moments later Fullerton raised the bar by clearing 16'06.75", an NCAA regional mark. Thomas-Bignami with the team looking on, again answered clearing the height himself becoming the third highest vaulter on the UCSB All-Time list. It took an eight inch personal best by Fullerton to win the competition over Bignami who had good attempts at 16'10'.75" in what would have been a school record vault.
The distances also saw good fields assembled from 800m-3000m. The 1500m had four athletes who have achieved an NCAA Regional mark, two of them being Gauchos. Scott McConville after setting the school record in this event last weekend came up just short of the win in a time of 3:52.07 after splitting a 56 second last lap. In the 800m, last year's conference champion, Ben Armel was out leaned, while teammate Justin Coburn came up for 4th in a seasonal best time of 1:53.40. In the 3000m, it took a challenge cup record to out kick sophomore Micah Tyhurst, who finished in 2nd with a time of 8:21.22, #3 All-Time for UCSB. Mike Chavez finished 5th in 8:28.93, #10 All-Time.
In the 400m Max Bellissimo came up for 3rd with a lifetime best of 48.65. Isaac Herrera set a seasonal best in the long jump with a leap of 23'00.75" finishing in 3rd and getting a Big West qualifying mark.
The Gauchos will split squads next weekend with a few athletes traveling to the prestigious Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays in Austin, TX with the others going to the Titan Twilight in Fullerton, CA.