Azusa, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Track and Field tackled a lengthy, drawn out 3 days worth of competition at the Bryan Clay Invitational hosted by Azusa Pacific University, and their perseverance throughout the meet did not disappoint. New all-time marks were set, regional qualifying marks were secured, and school records fell all within a 72 hour time frame.
"Between the school records, national and regional qualifiers, and lifetime bests, I would call this weekend a success" remarked Assistant Coach Gray Horn. "Our goal has always been to improve each week leading into championship season, and I can confidently say that we got better each week."
With just the Cal Poly Dual Meet left before the Big West Conference Championships happening in 3 weeks time, the Gauchos are looking prime for a good showing in the near future.
New Gaucho All-Time Marks
Kiely Gode 20' 2 ½" Long Jump (School Record)
Hope Bender 13.59 100m Hurdles (Ties No. 1); 5725 Points Heptathlon (No. 2)
Cassidy Peng 19' 4" Long Jump (No. 7)
Jarett Chinn 1:50.10 800m (No. 8)
Katie Camarena 10:43.25 Steeplechase (No. 8); 4:26.21 1500m (No. 10)
Bender Ties Nwaba in Hurdles; Moves to No. 2 All-Time in Heptathlon and Punches Ticket to Nationals
JR Hope Bender was able to tie the 100m hurdles record of 13.59 set by Olympian Barbara Nwaba back in 2012. After coming within .03 seconds of the record back in late March at the UCLA Invite, the junior was on top of her game throughout the whole event, dropping personal bests left and right with her 100m hurdles time setting the tone early.
In total, she would set personal bests in 5 out 7 events, accumulating a total score of 5725 points and beating her previous best score of 5212 points by a longshot and moving up to No. 2 on the all-time list just behind Nwaba. With that score, Hope now stands at No. 9 in the nation for NCAA Division 1, securing her spot for the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon set to take place in June.
Gode Finally Takes Down Long Jump Record
SR Kiely Gode's 20' 2 ½" school record effort in the women's long jump can be traced all the way back to the UW Invitational back in January. With a 19' 5 ½" effort in the controlled conditions of the indoor Dempsey facility, the record was always within sight with each passing meet. The senior Gaucho had interestingly enough actually hit 20' 2 ½" at the San Diego State Aztec Invitational back in late March already, but it was agonizingly invalidated for record purposes by a teasing 2.1 m/s tailwind. Regardless, a valiant 5th attempt down the runway on Friday was all it took, with Gode soaring comfortably past the 20 foot mark for the first time in her career with a legal wind.
Other Event Highlights
SR Jeff Lam spearheaded the Gaucho decathlon effort by scoring a personal best 6741 points to take 3rd in his group. His result was highlighted by a significant personal best in the high jump leaping all the way up to 6' 9 1/2", moving him up to No. 4 in the Big West this year. FR Sam Pica and JR Aaron Cheek would take up the lower end of the scoring with 6335 and 6263 points respectively, with Pica completing the 1st ever decathlon of his Gaucho career. Pica and Cheek are also on the board as No. 7 and No. 8 in the Big West heading into the Conference Meet.
SR Sike Azu-Irondi would put up another huge double effort in the 100m and 200m, throwing down times of 10.62 and 20.96. Though the 200m would be assisted with a +4.7 m/s tailwind, it would still be the fastest time the senior has ever run under all conditions.
FR Jarett Chinn would get a small taste of his Big West competition by taking on UC Davis' Brian Thomas in the 800m. The experienced Aggie would best the young freshman by the slimmest of margins in the end, but Jarett would be rewarded with an excellent time of 1:50.10, just missing out on breaking 1:50. His new personal best would move him onto the UCSB all-time list for the 1st time at the No. 8 slot.
SR Patrick Bourke utilized his signature final 150m kick in the 1500m to take the win in his heat with a time of 3:47.94, making it the 3rd time Bourke has run 3:47 this year. Coming into the homestretch nearly 20 meters behind the leader, Bourke would turn on the afterburners and absolutely crush his nearest competitor by almost a full second. Behind Bourke would be an army of underclassmen racking up new personal bests in their own heats with the likes of FR Thomas Wilfert (3:53.44), FR Alex Barr (3:54.22), and FR Jarett Chinn coming back after running the 800m earlier in the day (3:55.01).
SR Myles McDonald would send a huge statement to the Big West this weekend with an excellent 51.74 clocking in the 400m hurdles to take 3rd overall at the meet, just off the school record of 51.55 he set back in 2016. He would also run anchor leg on the 4x400m relay later in the evening with an unofficial 46 second split to take 2nd behind host school Azusa Pacific 3:14.85 to 3:14.87.
JR Kordell Hampton would impress once again in the discus with a huge throw of 186' 0", just 9" off the school record he set back in late March at San Diego State. Kordell has been consistently throwing in the 180 foot range for the majority of his competitions at this point, which should set him up nicely as post-season is looming just around the corner.
FR Chase Tarr would sneak past the 180 foot mark in the javelin again with a throw of 181' 10" to take 4th overall on the day. SR teammate Chris Ross who's been coming back from a back injury would get back up to speed with a 6th place showing at 179' 2".
SR Jenna Hinkle took on a national class field ranging from top Pac-12 talent to the heavy hitting professionals from the Bowerman Track Club in the 1st heat of the 1500m. The field would get the best of her this time around but she would still finish the race with a solid time of 4:22.04.
SO Katie Camarena posted up a solid 2 day double in the steeplechase on Thursday and the 1500m Friday night, running times of 10:43.25 and 4:26.21. Both marks were good enough to put her on the all-time list, No. 8 for the steeple and No. 10 for the 1500m. That now makes 3 events in which Katie has joined the all-time lists including her 2:10.90 800m clocking earlier this month at UCLA.
Just like the men, the women were able to put up a young squadron of personal best efforts throughout the night. Following Hinkle and Camarena, FR Kelly Bishop was able to put up a 4:38.74 clocking with SO Sienna Serrao coming in shortly after in the next heat with a 4:39.17, and FR Marisa Rodriguez finishing off the night with a 4:41.60 in her heat. Including both genders, that totals to 7 underclassmen with new personal bests in the 1500m.
The 5000m crew was also on a mission with JR Miranda Ross leading the group. Miranda would shave a good 12 seconds off her previous best with a clocking of 17:12.49, followed by JR Tori Yanco who would take a huge 16 seconds off her personal best with a 17:30.27, and FR Jasmine Rippey would close things out with a 17:49.02, 9 seconds off her previous best.
Coming into this meet as a 18' 3 ½" long jumper, JR Cassidy Peng would go on to have the greatest series of jumps in her life in the long jump, highlighted by a gargantuan 19' 4" effort on her 1st attempt. Her subsequent efforts would not surpass the incredible jump she put up to start her day, but save a 2nd attempt foul, every single jump the junior took flew well past her previous best of 18' 3 ½". She now stands at No. 7 on the all-time list for women's long jump thanks to that huge 1st attempt.
JR Josephine Graber would also improve on her best long jump mark with a jump of 18' 7", inching just a bit farther than her 18' 5 3/4" jump from the Aztec Invite back in March.
"We had some great performances across the board in all the event areas," said Assistant Distance Coach Darius Terry. "Obviously Hope set the tone for the team with her NCAA qualifying mark in the heptathlon. Her teammates followed suit and the weekend resulted in school records and conference qualifiers from plenty of Gauchos. The team is moving in the right direction and should be for a great battle at the UCSB/Cal Poly Dual next week."
The Blue/Green Rivalry will be in full swing next week as UCSB will host the annual Cal Poly Dual Meet on their home track, the first track meet hosted on the UCSB campus in almost 10 years. With family and alumni all coming in to see the 1st track and field meet on the new facility, this upcoming weekend should be an exciting one.
"We're looking forward to hosting alumni and family members for an action packed weekend at home versus Cal Poly!" exclaimed an excited Gray Horn.