Santa Barbara, Calif. - Underneath a hazy sky on a cool winter afternoon, a wall of noise errupted on the west end of the Westmont College Track Stadium. Standing shoulder to shoulder echoing cheers, first names and what could only be described as "noise", UCSB athletes swarmed the final turn during the meet's last event, the 4 x 400m relay. The Gaucho Curve had returned and with it the 2015 outdoor track and field season was underway.
The UCSB men's and women's track and field programs were out in full force Saturday at Westmont College in their first meet of the 2015 outdoor season. Competing in a three team double dual, UCSB took on Westmont and Pepperdine. The UCSB men had a strong showing, winning 15 of the 18 contested events. The UCSB women were just as good, taking 14 event wins of their own.
UCSB 120, Westmont 65
UCSB 127, Pepperdine 10
UCSB 116, Westmont 75
UCSB 137, Pepperdine 31
The Gauchos have grown accumstomed to seeing new athletes step into leading roles over the years. Those watching the women's 800m this weekend witnessed one of those moments as sophomore Kaitlin Large took the win in her first outdoor 800m effort in 2:14.43. Large, a former 200/400/800 runner for Carlsbad HS spent her first year as a Gaucho focusing soley on the 200m and 400m events. Welcome to the mid-distances Kaitlin.
Also in the women's 800m, red-shirt freshman Rebekah Ent placed third with a fine 2:15.45 performance.
The UCSB women welcomed back Danielle Moreno after a one year red-shirt hiatus. Moreno sizzled in her return, winning the 3,000m in 10:08.44.
Victoria Tsolis pressed the pace in the women's mile and went wire to wire, winning in 5:04.56. Close behind, was freshman Jenna Hinkle, placing second in 5:06.71 in another outstanding debut performance.
In the women's 400m, Jessica Johnson found herself in a battle with Westmont's Elysia Mitchell, one of the most versatile NAIA sprinters in the nation. At the gun, Johnson took the race out hard with Mitchell in close towe. As the sprinters reached the final turn, Mitchell displayed strength that carried her to an NAIA 600m National Championship, winning with a new stadium record of 54.50. Johnson finished in 55.18, the fastest opening time of her career.
In the 100m, freshman Audrianna Holloway took the win with a time of 12.74.
In the women's 100m hurdles, Shannon Trumbull lined up against perhaps the most lethal athlete in all of the NAIA in Westmont's Alexis Dalton. Dalton, a former junior college champion in the heptathlon, holds strong national rankings in no fewer than four events. Trumbull rose to the occasion, blasting from the blocks and racing to a stellar 14.31 win. Not only was this the fastest opening race for Trumbull, it's only .03 off her wind-legal best.
Trumbull was just getting warmed up. She doubled back in the 400m hurdles, taking a narrow win over teammate Hallie Brauner in 63.07 to 63.08- both strong openers for two Big West performers.
Concluding the women's running events, the 4 x 400m relay provided perhaps the best race of the day as the Gauchos lined up against a Mitchell led Westmont team looking for a national bid. A tight battle through the first three legs, the final exchange squared Mitchell off against UCSB's Hallie Brauner. Holding a 5m advantage at the hand-off, Mitchell wouldn't back off the gas pedal as she blazed through the tape in 3:47.44, setting a new Stadium Record and current #2 time in the NAIA. Brauner didn't disappoint as she dropped a lifetime best split and closed well, helping the Gauchos finish in 3:49.61.
Heather Hawes took double wins in the shot put and discus with marks of 41'10 and 148'9 respectively. Hawes moved up the UCSB all-time rankings with her discus performance by one spot up to ninth.
Ashley Alama, a junior from Ontario, CA, placed second in the shot put and discus with two new personal bests. Alama, throwing the shot put for the first time in college notched a mark of 38'9 and came back in the discus with her first meet over 140, hitting 142'2 on her third effort. Freshman Kayla O'Brine placed third in the discus with a mark of 137'6.
UCSB school record holder, Melissa Rake looked to be in fine form, winning the javelin with a mark of 137'7. Rake launched her fourth throw out to the right sector and speared her winning throw of 41.94m, her second throw over 41m on the day.
Arguably the highlight of the meet came in the women's high jump. Each time Jessica Emde is in the field, this could be a reoccurring theme as the junior from Oakridge HS powered her way over the early bars, equaling her personal best jump of 5'9.25 on her first attempt. She then attempted looks at 5'10.5 and was unsuccessful for the second meet in a row at a new personal best height.
Freshman Kelsey Remige made a great impression in her first meet as a Gaucho, adding four inches to her high school best in the high jump. Remige showed veteran poise, jumping 5'5 on her second attempt. Tears of joy were still on her face as she took three good looks at 5'7.
The UCSB men showed depth across the board in an outstanding team performance. In the distances events they put their strength on display, picking up where they left off this fall after winning the Big West Cross Country title.
In the one mile, the Gauchos took the top 12 spots. Bryan Guijarro, the reigning Big West XC Champion, showed his versatility by stepping down in distance and winning with a time of 4:10.31. Brad Littooy wasn't far behind, coming in second with a time of 4:13.58. In third was Andrew Verdin in 4:14.44. In fourth was Anthony Monroy in 4:16.64.
In the 3,000m Guijarro doubled back, taking the win in 8:26.11, a scant three sconds off his PB.Anthony Ortolan charged through the line in second, showing yet again just how well he works with teammate Guijarro. Ortolan clipped a new personal best in 8:27.67. Anthony Monroy placed third in 8:27.87, a fine double for the junior from Burbank.
Karlon Johnson won the men's 400m in 49.29 in the first race of his senior campaign.
Brendan Weaver won the 110m hurdles in 15.48. Weaver also placed first in the high jump with a leap of 6'2.75.
In the 400m hurdles, Myles McDonald put up a terrific opening time of 54.4 for the win. McDonald would light up the one lap event later in the meet with a gutsy 48.8 relay effort in the 4 x 400m. Weaver came back and placed second in the long hurdles with a time of 54.8, showing his versatility and athleticism.
Jordan Scott took the line in the 800m, the senior and Big West Champion in the 400m stepped up in distance for an early season bout of strength work and took the win in 1:54.15. FreshmanJose Lopez was third with a cool 1:56.50 opener.
Rounding out the track events, the Gauchos took the win in the 4 x 400m relay with a solid season opening performance of 3:15.61.
Parker Curry won the pole vault in his debut performance with a leap of 14'7.25. Curry then took three good attempts at 16', which would have equaled his prep best.
Senior Oscar Pearson won the long jump with a leap of 22'6.5.
Freshman Grant Bush took the win in the triple jump with a leap of 44'11.5.
A pair of Gaucho throwers erupted in their outdoor debuts in the UCSB blue, taking event wins and captivating the crowd with their performances.
Freshman Afolabi Olabode won the men's shot put with a heave of 54'0.50. Olabode had five throws over 16m and missed cracking the UCSB all-time list by 1.5 inches. He opened the competition with a 52'11.5 put before unleashing his 16.47m best in the third round.
In another debut performance, Thomas Gore-Schreck won the javelin with a new best of 212'00. Schreck eased into the day with a 195'10 short approach drill throw before backing up and firing off two throws over 204. On his final throw he found the release angle he was searching for, cutting his spear into the wind before it sliced the grass at 64.63m. Schreck now sits ninth all-time in UCSB history with his performance.
In other throwing results, sophomore Austin Sahs captured the first win of his collegiate career in the men's hammer with a throw of 163'00. Sahs had three throws over the 49m barrier.
Stephen Leach, a sophomore from Carmel, placed second in the hammer and shot put with marks of 154'5 and 49'2.5 respectively. Denly Rodriguez placed third in the shot with a mark of 48'10.75 and freshman Deion Dayao took fourth with a throw of 48'3.25 in a solid debut.
Zach Tombol won the discus with a throw of 152'4. Tombol also placed second in the long jump with a leap of 20'10.75 in only his second meet contesting the event.
Cody Ramage took second in the discus with a new personal best of 149'11.
The Gauchos will now return to a two week training block before heading down to UC San Diego for the All Cal Meet.