BOISE, ID. - The UCSB women's track and field team traveled to Idaho to open the 2016 indoor season Friday and Saturday with the Ed Jacoby Invite. The Gauchos competed against host Boise State and a handful of other Mountain West teams including Nevada, Utah State and San Jose State.
"I thought our women competed well in our opener. We opened up with some nice performances and had the chance to see some of our newcomers put on the UCSB blue for the first time." said UCSB Associate Head Coach Cody Fleming.
Nine UCSB athletes finished in the top-eight in their respective events. Jessica Emde, the Gauchos reigning Big West high jump champion, took the win in the high jump, besting a field of 24 jumpers.
"Jessica was awesome tonight." said Fleming
"She worked hard this off-season. Anyone who has walked through our weight room can attest to that. To come out and jump like this in the first meet of the year shows her growth in the event. Jessica thrives in competition and tonight she was back in her natural environment."
Emde cleared her first three bars all on first attempts before needing three jumps to clear 5'8.5. She then passed the next bar, ending up as the only jumper remaining in the competition with the bar then set at 5'10.75. Emde took the time between bars to regain composure, actually walking to the center of the infield and laying down until her name was called for the next height. When she sprung up her legs came alive as Emde took three solid attempts at what would be a new personal best. The third time she nailed her approach and sailed over the bar which was set 1cm higher than her Big West winning jump from one year ago.
Emde ranks #8 in the NCAA in the high jump with her winning height. This was her fifteenth collegiate victory in the event.
The Gauchos had two other athletes qualify for jumping finals- both freshman.
Jazmin Moss placed third in the triple jump with a leap of 37'0.25.
"Jazmin is going to be a special athlete for us. Coach Anderson found a gem with her. We are all looking forward to seeing her develop this year." said Fleming.
Cassidy Peng qualified for the long jump final with a jump of 17'2, she would go on to place ninth overall.
"Cassidy has a wide range as you will see her in both the long and triple jumps and the pole vault for us. She is a talented young lady." said Fleming.
Peng also qualified for the triple jump final where she placed eighth.
Two other freshman also made strong first impressions for the Gauchos. Coincidentally, both came to UCSB with something in common- they were both Orange County Champions as high school seniors.
In the pentathlon, Hope Bender scored 3211 points to place seventh in her first collegiate multi. Bender used a shot put toss of 35'3 and an 8.84 clip in the 60m hurdles to pace her score.
"Hope is someone to keep an eye on. Running sub 8.9 in your first collegiate hurdles race is pretty solid. She has a Ferrari engine and it'll be fun to see her figure out how to steer it this year." said Fleming.
In the high jump, Taylor Eddleman placed eighth overall with a leap of 5'4.5.
"Taylor took some nice attempts at the next bar and handled her first collegiate competiton well. She has a good feel for the event and is a quick learner." said Fleming.
Also competing in the pentathlon was UCSB Assistant Coach Annett Fleming. Winning the event with a score of 4035, Fleming used a shot put throw of 45'2 to tally her score. Fleming ended the 2015 season ranked #39 in the world in the heptathlon and represented her native country of Germany as the team captain in the Thorpe Cup. She took an early season multi win for the Santa Barbara Track Club.
"Both Hallie and Shamara fired out of the blocks. The execution was there. A few more weeks of Coach Anderson's interval training and they'll be dropping those times. They competed well for how early in the year it is." said Fleming.
The Gauchos will next turn their attention to the Mt. T Invite, hosted by Northern Arizona on January 29-30.