Spirit of Olé!
Santa Barbara, CA: If there was any hesitation in a Gaucho's mind as to whether or not they were ready to compete this weekend, those fears were quelled as soon as the steady sound of slow claps permeated through the stadium. Of course, every Gaucho athlete knows this sound and upon hearing it, reports to the call without hesitation. As killer bees know to attack their prey once it has been stung, the Gauchos swarmed the closest side of the track, the claps getting louder and more frequent. Soon the mass of blue bodies had grown to a great size and then the clapping ceased all at once, for what was to come next necessitates silence. A heroic speech from Sean Johnson, a senior hurdler and leader of the sprints squad, rose from the center of the crowd, tension and anticipation both rising as his words struck the minds and bodies of the athletes surrounding him, everyone knowing what was at hand. And then every Gaucho screamed out at once, the words "Ole" and "Gauchos" piercing the morning air in a triumphant bellow as they jumped up and down, arms stretched out amongst each other. The "Olé", a pre-meet Gaucho tradition, is the rallying cry of the UCSB track and field team and its roar strikes fear in anyone that has the misfortune of being on its receiving end, because once its momentum starts… it cannot be stopped.
The Gaucho Roundup is the first time many athletes compete in a UCSB jersey and this year it was held up in the hills at Westmont College, with the track overlooking the Santa Barbara valley all the way to the coast. Yet, the pretty view did not stop the Gauchos from throwing down some impressive marks and personal bests, even with this meet being the first of the season. UCSB took the day's top honors winning both the Men's and Women's competitions, despite facing a seasoned and nationally ranked NAIA squad in Westmont College.
Starting the running events off for the day was the women's 4x100 meter relay team consisting of Kayla Campbell, Betsy Armitage, Kellie Gratigny, and Shannon Trumbull. The handoff between Armitage and Gratigny almost spelled doom for the relay team as Gratigny took off too early and had to put on the brakes to let Armitage catch up to her. Although, the quick, crisp handoff from Gratigny to Trumbull sealed the deal as Trumbull lit up the back side of the track. The team took first in the race with a time of 49.71 seconds.
The men's 4x100 meter relay followed, which was opened up by Nate Harvey, with Jacob Vowels, Michael Aiken, and Evan Walker following his lead, winning with a time of 42.53 seconds. Sprint Coach Travis Anderson will continue to shuffle the order until he finds the right fit, but the race was a good indicator of their abilities running together in the future.
Shyan Vaziri put on another of his dominating performances showing his prowess in confidently leading a race and keeping a fast and controlled pace. Vaziri won the race with a 4:06.13 mile and was pursued by teammate Bryan Guijarro who finished second with a time of 4:10.47. Guijarro, a long distance 5k and 10k specialist, displayed his range by stepping down to the four lap race while Vaziri dropped a spectacular early season time in the rarely contested NCAA outdoor event.
The Women's 100 meter hurdles saw another Gaucho winner with Shannon Trumbull taking first place with a time of 14.68, picking up where she left off in 2013. Coming off of her 4x100 anchor, the sophomore is showing great promise for an outstanding career this year.
The Men's 110 meter hurdles ended with a first place finish by senior Sean Johnson running a 14.53. Second place was taken by freshmen Brendon Weaver with a time of 15.52. When asked how he felt about the race Johnson said, "Normally, I'm relying on my ability to run clean over the hurdles to run a good time, but today that was not the case as I destroyed almost every hurdle. I was able to stay fast in between the hurdles which made up for hitting them, which is a good sign seeing as this is just the first meet of the season".
The Men's 400 meter hurdle race, arguably the hardest race on the track, was won by Myles McDonald with a time of 56.20 and was followed closely by teammateTroy Hardy, with a second place finish and time of 57.68.
On the field events side, the meet opened up with the women's hammer throw and the Gauchos did not hesitate to take first through fourth place in the event. Taking first with a throw of 152'11 was Hanna Person. Kathleen Guzman finished second with a mark of 150'3, holding off Heather Hawes who threw 132'3 and finished third. Fourth place was secured by Ashley Alama. Early hammer success was a great way to start the meet for this women squad.
The Men's Hammer throw was won by Albert Hughes with a heave of 177'2. Hughes also claimed top honors in the discus with a throw if 151'5.
Women's Shot Put was up next with Heather Hawes putting up a huge first place mark and a new personal best with a 13.10 meter toss (42'11.75). When asked about what it felt like to improve upon her best so early in the year, Hawes exclaimed, "I'm really excited because it can be a big struggle sometimes when you do not know what you're going to open [the track season] with and for me to open up this good, I know I set up my season right". Wise words from Hawes, who proves how important pre-season training is in order to set up a successful year on the track. Melissa Rake took second place in the event.
Men's Shot Put was a close competition between two Gauchos that came down to the wire. It took the final throws of both Pat Smith and Denley Rodriguez to score first and second place finishes, respectively. Smith won with a toss of 48'4.75, just beating Rodriguez, who threw 48'2.5.
In Women's Pole Vault, Jaime Greenburg with a vault of 3.33 meters, recording her first collegiate win.
Gauchos took first and second in Men's Pole Vault with Clint Gallivan jumping 4.42 meters and Zack Logan jumping 4.12 meters.
Tori Usgaard, a talented sophomore heptathlete, won the Women's Long Jump with a 17'11.75 jump. Usgaard also took third in the high jump with a leap of 5'3. Jessica Emde would finish second in the high jump with a mark of 5'5.
Men's Long Jump was showcased by the Gauchos who took first through fourth place. Oscar Pearson jumped 22'11.25 on his very first jump to win, with Chris Brooksjumping 22'2.5 to take second, Ike Okpara jumping 21'4 and Jeff Oechsli jumping 21'1.5 to take third and fourth place, respectively.
First place in the Women's Triple jump was taken by Kellie Gratigny with a jump of 36'9.5 and Laurel Shepperd coming up in second place with a 35'2 jump.
Men's high jump was won by decathlete, Brenden Weaver with a first attempt clearance of 1.95 meters (6'4 ¾") to beat Ike Okpara (also a decathlete) who also jumped 1.95 meters, but cleared the bar on his second attempt, putting him behind Weaver. Both jumpers took attempts at 2.00 meters (6'6 ¾"), but did not clear it. Note: 1.95m is good for 758pts. In the decathlon scoring tables.
Women's Javelin was won by Melissa Rake with a throw of 125'6 with the spear. Freshman, Kylie Butler finished second in the event.
In Women's Discus Ashley Alama finished first by throwing 136'6, edging out second place teammate Heather Hawes. Rounding out third place was hammer winner, Hanna Person.