April 2, 2006
Split squads this weekend placed the majority of the Gauchos in the central valley of California, at 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. Braving the wet California weather, Friday afternoon's conditions were less than perfect for the prelims, but did not affect many Gauchos from notching some of their best performances of the year, only to have a few more good marks under clear skies on Saturday.
Led by Gabe Mann (Sr.) the Gaucho Men produced some great marks in Fresno. Getting his swagger back after a few weekends of tossing the javelin well under his best of 222-02 achieved in February, Mann, in the prelims would unleash a 204-08 foot throw, almost twenty feet ahead of his nearest competitor. Then in the finals as the running events ended on the track, the Gauchos rallied behind Mann at the end of the day as Ole's erupted cheering him on. Mann feeding off the teams energy, would toss the Javelin just two feet under his personal best winning the Cal-Nevada Championships with a mark of 220-01 feet. When the national performance lists come out this week, Mann should be ranked within the top twenty in the country, joining Stephanie Rothstein on the women's side as a National class competitor.
Also, in the field, Reif Lawson (So.) tossed what Coach John Dagata termed one of the most technically sound Hammer throws he had ever witnessed at any level. His mark of 180-01 feet was a six-foot plus personal best, the ninth farthest mark in UCSB history and qualified him for finals. Jeff Stewart (So.) also competed well throughout the weekend, one of his best meets as a Gaucho. In the Hammer he would join Lawson in the finals with a personal best mark of 170-01 feet. Stewart would also qualify for finals in the Shot Put along with Matt Barkley (So.).
On Saturday, Lawson would grab 5th in the Hammer with a toss of 172-10, while Stewart would take 7th throwing the hammer 168-06. Out in the Shot Put ring, Stewart would launch a personal best 53-07 feet and the tenth farthest UCSB All-Time throw, good for seventh in a loaded throws events field. Barkley, after his NCAA Regional qualifying performance last weekend would finish just ahead of his teammate in 6th with a distance of 54-06.75. Finishing off the field events, Ryan Donnelly (Jr.), although not one of his better Long Jumping weekends he stuck it out squeezing into the finals as the ninth ranked competitor, following it up by a leap of 22-10 in the finals to finish in sixth.
Out on the track, the 4x100m squad began the afternoon on Saturday for the Gauchos with a solid 4th place finish, finishing in 41.67, their fastest time of the year. Next up on track, the men qualified three into the 1500m finals. Scott McConville (Sr.) was ranked 3rd in going into the finals after winning his heat on Friday. Scott Smith (Fr.) and Gabe Lopez (Jr.) were the other qualifying in the 4th and 8th respectively.
McConville, not known for being a front-runner during his career at UCSB, instead relying on finishing speed, planned on changing tactics as he prepared for the important months of April and May. In the finals he darted to the lead coming through 200m in just under 29 seconds and 60 seconds for 400m. He built a 20-25 meter lead on the field, maintaining it as he went through 800m in 2:03 and 1200m in 3:05. Unfortunately, he ran out gas the final 250m falling back to 3rd in a time of 3:52.73. Lopez and Smith would run just under four minutes finishing in 10th and 11th with time of 3:59.42 and 3:59.43.
At 400m, Freshman Kris Shirley, continued his great Spring Break after competing well at the Trojan Invitational last weekend. On Friday he would run a personal best 48.73 qualifying in the 6th position for finals and obtain a Big West qualifying mark. In the finals he would drop to seventh but maintained consistency by notching another sub 49 in 48.87. Turning back to Friday's prelims, Kai Glover (So.) and Justin Morgan (Jr.) also notched personal bests racing to a 50.11 and a 49.81 in the 400m.
Rounding out the Men's top competitors at the Cal-Nevada Championships, Ben Berkowitz (Sr.) in the 3,000m steeplechase would run another personal best of 9:23.70. Working on his hurdling form over last couple weeks, he looked like a new runner finishing 3rd in the field of eleven. A few seconds back, Daniel Cuevas (Fr.) also notched a personal best at 9:35.42, taking seventh scoring some points for the Gauchos.
Without a full roster at the Cal-Nevada Championships, the Men ended in sixth place out of sixteen teams a final tally of sixty points. The Gauchos will next travel to Irvine, CA on Friday night for their first major scored meet of the 2006 season. They will go head to head against Cal St. Fullerton, Cal St. Long Beach and UC Irvine in search of their first Big West Challenge Cup title.