April 2, 2006
With split squads traveling this weekend, the majority of the Gaucho ladies traveled to Cal State Fresno for the Cal-Nevada Championships. Setup with prelims on Friday afternoon, the top nine in each event would advance to finals, taking place on Saturday. With some big marks being hit at Stanford's Distance Carnival on Friday night, the Gaucho Women sprinters took center stage in Fresno on Saturday.
Kylie McCuen (Sr.) entered the weekend's Championship without a win in 2006 against her strongest rivals, primarily in Shauna Hackett and Deanna Goodwin from Northridge, CA. Traditionally racing the 200m and 400m events, McCuen traveled to Fresno with the 100m and 200m in mind. She would qualify easily in both events on Friday entering Saturday's finals ranked second in the 100m behind Hackett and first in the 200m where she was the only competitor to break twenty-five seconds in the prelims.
First, in the 100m she would tear up the track tying her personal best of 12.16, currently 5th all-time at UCSB, in a -2.2 headwind crossing the line first ahead of Hackett by .11 seconds. Then in the 200m, the school record holder at 23.88, notched one of her most impressive victories of her career. Wearing the black heat winners' uniform, she would demolish the field with a 24.07 clocking, her second best time, .59 seconds ahead of Goodwin and a great early season mark, just .11 off of the NCAA Regional Qualifying mark.
In the 400m, without McCuen, the Gauchos would still put two in the finals. Elise Geiger (Sr.) and Kerry Gamble (So.) would take 2nd and 3rd in section one of two on Friday afternoon with times of 57.00 and 57.27 respectively. Following McCuen's lead, the other veteran squad member of the sprints, Geiger would set a personal best by over a second in Saturday's final, finishing in third with a time of 55.86, the fourth best UCSB all-time mark. Gamble would also run well, setting a seasonal best at 56.65 in sixth place, another top ten mark for UCSB as she sits currently in eigth on the list. Gamble, who is coming off of surgery to repair torn ligaments from an accident in the off-season, is showing that her healing process is coming along quite well.
Sticking with the sprints, but this time over hurdles, Stellamarie Hall (Jr.) continued her impressive 2006 season. She qualified for both the 100m hurdle and 400m hurdle finals on Friday, tied for eighth in the 100 and second in the 400. In the 100m hurdles she would maintain her rank, finishing in eighth with a time of 15.05. Then in the 400m hurdles she would drop almost another second off her time just getting out leaned for the win by Fullerton's Destany Clearly, the top ranked competitor in the field. Hall crossed the line in 61.89, the third fastest UCSB all-time mark and is only .10 off the school record. Diana Joyner (Jr.) who joined Hall in the 400m hurdle finals qualifying in eighth would pick up one spot taking seventh in 65.39.
Moving to the distances, at 1500m, the Gauchos placed two in the finals. Bethany Nickless (So.) was the top ranked UCSB athlete, going into the finals in tenth, as her first section was quite a bit slower than the second. Danielle Domenichelli (Fr.) was the other Gaucho as she came out of the second section ranked 4th overall. On Saturday, Nickless would go out with the leaders with Domenichelli coming off the back of the pack. As they entered the final 800m, the front pack had strung out just a bit as Nickless found herself in third place, chasing first and second but comfortably ahead of fourth. Domenichelli found herself moving up through the field entering the bell lap. Up front in the final 400m, the field remained the same with Nickless finishing 3rd in 3:35.18. Domenichelli, with a previous best of 4:42 charged the last lap kicking to a fifth place finish in a personal best mark of 3:39.53.
In the only final of Friday afternoon, the Women's 5000 meters featured Liza Hitchner (Fr.) for the Gauchos. Running just outside the Big West qualifying mark two weeks ago, Hitchner was determined to grab it even with dismal weather conditions. Having to run an 18:15 to qualify, Hitchner would finish tenth getting the mark by just over five seconds in 18:09.87, a good early mark for the Freshman. Topping off the distances was the 3,000m steeplechase with Christie Farson (Jr.) debuting in the event for the Gauchos. Running strong, Farson looked more like a veteran at the event rather than a rookie finishing fifth in a time of 11:26.69, a Big West qualifying mark and ninth all-time for UCSB.
Out on the field Jamie Schwarzbach (So.) came ever more closer to the Big West qualifying mark throwing just under an inch of her personal best in the finals of the Shot Put on Saturday. Her mark of 42-07.50 feet, half an inch shorter than her best, was good for seventh. Charlene Heaston (So.) having an off day would take eighth with a toss of 42-02.75 feet. Rounding things out in field, the Pole Vault had Jessica Horn (Jr.) set a seasonal best by clearing 11-01.75, a Big West qualifying mark. Also, Melanie Sonby (So.) would set a personal best just under the Big West mark, as she cleared 10-10.00 feet.
The Lady Gauchos as a team, without a full roster, finished seventh overall with seventy points. They will be back in action next Friday night at UC Irvine as they set out to defend their Big West Challenge Cup title against Cal St. Fullerton, Cal St. Long Beach and UCI.