Santa Barbara, Calif. - With the majority of the team taking time off from competing this week, UC Santa Barbara senior Jenna Hinkle found an extra opportunity to face off some elite competition last night by taking part in the Santa Barbara Elite Miles event hosted by Hoka One One at La Playa Stadium located downtown at Santa Barbara City College. Under the Friday night lights with a sea of people crowding the homestretch all the way into lane 4, Hinkle would finish off the race with a 5th place finish among a field of professionals in a time of 4:38.81.
"It was nice to have some Gaucho representation among some elites in the field," commented assistance distance coach Darius Terry. " Jenna was able to stick her nose in the competition which consisted of some the best milers in the U.S. She came away with a season's best and I'm glad to see how she's progressing throughout the season."
Hinkle would establish her position from get go by slotting herself in the front pack just behind the pacemakers for the first two laps. With her teammates in attendance sneaking in a few Olé, Olé, Olés on the homestretch, the senior would move all the way up to 3rd at the bell, much to the delight of the hometown crowd. Ultimately she would fall just short in the final strides to the professional field, but it was an incredible effort by the lady Gaucho regardless.
The elite women's field would be won by New Jersey/New York Track Club member Ce'Aira Brown with an impressive time of 4:36.94, which currently stands as a world outdoor leading mark for the event, with her teammate Megan Mansy finishing just behind her to take 2nd in 4:37.59. Ayla Granados of Strava Track Club, an alum of Santa Barbara City College, would take 3rd overall in 4:38.49, and former Big West Conference standout and UC Davis alum Raquel Lambdin would take 4th in 4:38.78 with Hinkle just behind her.
2016 UCSB Alumni and 1500m/mile record holder Shyan Vaziri was also in attendance in the elite men's field, clocking an impressive 4:00.90 to finish 7th overall to start off his outdoor season. The time was a mere .89 seconds off the school record he set just over 2 years ago. The former Gaucho has been training post-collegiately for the past 2 years up in Washington and has been rounding into form as of late, coming off a strong indoor campaign where he clocked 4:02.32 for the mile back in February.
The men's race would be won by Kyle Merber, also of New Jersey/New York Track Club, clocking a world-leading outdoor mark of 3:57.74 to make him the first person to ever run under 4 minutes in the mile in Santa Barbara County. Along with Merber, Eric Avila, Mexico's Daniel Estrada, and New Jersey/New Track Club member Graham Crawford would all dip under 4 minutes with respective clockings of 3:57.91, 3:57.92, and 3:59.92.