SANTA BARBARA, Calif.- UCSB senior Tori Usgaard has ended the NCAA regular season ranked inside the top-24 in the heptathlon, earning her a spot into the NCAA Championship Final. While the remainder of the Gauchos will toe the line, take to the runway and step into the circle at the NCAA West Regional held next week in Austin, TX, the multi-events bypass the regional meet and head straight to the NCAA Championships based off of the descending order list. Usgaard will compete at NCAA's on June 9th and 10th at the University of Oregon's Hayward Field.
Usgaard, a former Dana Hills HS star, is now a graduating Chemical Engineering student who went on an absolute tear throughout her final track and field season.
Competing in an indoor competition in Boise on February 3rd, Usgaard showed an early glimpse of her hurdle ability by winning the Jacksons/New Balance Indoor in a time of 8.72- a spectacular indoor effort. Moving to the outdoor season, she then went on to eclipse her previous best of 14.28 in the 100m hurdles on eight different occasions, recording a wind-legal 13.88 best, a time she recorded while running side-by-side with Canadian Olympian Angela Whyte.
Her heptathlon season best came at the Mt. Sac Relays, where she placed fifth overall with a score of 5551. She also recorded scores of 5329 at the Northridge Multis and 5307 at the Big West Championships. She now ranks second all-time at UCSB in the event behind Rio Olympian Barbara Nwaba.
Perhaps her biggest senior breakthrough came in the long jump, recording five competitions over the 19 foot barrier. Her highlight performance came in the Cal Poly Dual where she won the event with a wind-aided lifetime best leap of 20'1.75, a mark that also qualified her for the NCAA West Regional. She tied Veronica Gines' 2013 school record in the event at the Big West Championships with a jump of 19'5.5.
"Tori has grown so much over these past five years." reflected UCSB Coach Cody Fleming.
"One of the things I noticed about her right from the start has been how competitive she is. Whether it's pushing through a fall workout or preparing for a Chemical Engineering exam, she's going to lock in 100%. This year in particular things started to fall into place. Not just on the track but in life. She has had this different look in her eyes all year and to be honest, I've just stepped aside and let her show me the way."
That path now leads to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, OR.
Check back with UCSBgauchos.com for a full preview of the NCAA West Regional held next week, May 25-27 in Austin, TX.