May 18, 2008
NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- The Gauchos swept the long distance races at the Big West Championships, with Chris Ashley winning the men's 5000m and 10,000m, and Danielle Domenichelli winning the women's 5000m and 10,000m. In the team scoring, the men ended the day in fourth place, and the women took sixth.
After four seasons of running exceptional races, but not getting the titles to complement the times, Chris Ashley won two titles in two races at this season's Conference Championships. Less than twenty-four hours after winning the 10,000 meter race, Ashley ran a commanding 5000m this evening and took home his second Conference title. Ashley stayed in the front early with Jonathan Peterson of UC Davis, and then slowly started to bring his lap times under 70 seconds to push the pace. He eventually started clocking laps of 65 seconds or faster, pulling away for a clear lead with three to go. He ended up finishing with a time of 14:49.90, eight seconds faster than the runner-up. The Gauchos picked up 22 points in the race, as Michael Powers, Tim Aukshunas, and Julian DeRubira took fourth, fifth, and sixth respectively.
The second double-winner for the Gauchos was Danielle Domenichelli, who was in the same scenario as Ashley, having run a 10k the night before today's 5k. Danielle looked strong and confident once again, taking her second Conference title with a time of 17:06.59. Second place went to Bethany Nickless, who entered the race despite having a rough time in yesterday's steeplechase. Nickless went into the 5,000m with only the 17th-best time in the Conference, but she improved on that substantially in this race and captured her second All-Conference performance of the meet.
Jane Doolittle had a big day in the high jump with her highest clearance of the year, getting over 5'10" (1.78m) and taking third in an extremely competitive field. Doolittle cleared her first two heights cleanly with no misses, but then found herself in a bit of trouble with two misses at 1.75m. She cleared that bar on her final attempt, and went on to clear 1.78m on her second attempt after barely missing her first at that height. The winner of the event was Sharon Day from Cal Poly, who cleared an astounding 6'4.75" (1.95m), which is a Conference Record, Meet Record, and the third-highest mark in the entire world so far this year (including professionals).
Salim Benmohamed took third place in the 800m, crossing the line in 1:52.65. He edged out Jake Kelly-Strong from Cal Poly by two hundredths of a second. The surprise winner of the event was Pedro Ramos from UC Riverside, who clocked a 1:51.39. Tim Murphy from UC Irvine came in second at 1:51.89.
Jeff Stewart was third in the shot put with his best throw hitting 55'4.25" (16.87m). It was a great day for Hector Serrano in the shot, as four out of his six throws were personal bests. The best one was his fifth throw, which measured-up to 54'6" (16.61m), the eighth-best in UCSB history. Serrano placed fourth in the event.
In the women's throws, Kayla Smith was fourth in the shot put, her best throw hitting 45'8.5" (13.93m). Jean Lightfoot posted a tremendous improvement in the discus, with her final throw passing the 150-foot mark at 152'7" (46.51m). That moved Lightfoot all the way up to fourth place, scoring five points for the Gauchos.
Sheneice Vargas scored some points in her first Conference meet, taking sixth place in the 400m with a time of 56.23. That's another personal best for Vargas, who had a solid freshman campaign and whose future looks bright in the sprints.
Other scorers included Jayson Hayes, who was fifth in the 1500m race with a lifetime best of 3:54.14, picking up four team points. Elmer Guzman had his best day of the season in the 400m hurdles, getting under 54 seconds with a time of 53.59. He took fifth place in the event. Jason Newland ran a wind-legal 10.91 in the 100m dash, taking eighth place and scoring a point for the team. He is now officially on the all-time list for the 100m, currently with the 9th-best mark in UCSB history.
The team scoring saw Long Beach State win the men's title with 185 points, followed by Cal State Northridge with 159 points and Cal Poly with 116. UCSB was fourth with 91.5 points, ahead of UC Irvine (83), Cal State Fullerton (77.5), UC Davis (70), and UC Riverside (36). The women's meet was won by Cal State Northridge, who amassed 189 points. Second went to UC Riverside with 143 points, followed by Cal Poly with 126, Long Beach State with 110.5, Cal State Fullerton with 89.5, UCSB with 60, UC Davis with 59, and UC Irvine with 42.
The next meet will be the NCAA West Regional Championships, which will also be held at Cal State Northridge this season. The Gauchos have several athletes qualified for that meet. There is a one-week break before Regionals, which will be held on Friday, May 30 and Saturday, May 31.
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