May 2, 2006
The Gaucho Men overcame the Mustangs of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo on Saturday afternoon for their first Battle of the Central Coast title in three attempts. Coming down to the final event, the closest dual meet on file between the two had UCSB on top 104.5 to 98.5 points. It took five new Regional Championship qualifying marks and slew of personal and seasonal bests to get it done at home versus their central coast rival.
Always a heated rivalry in any sport in which the Gauchos go head to head against the Mustangs, the Men rounded up Poly during the heated meet. In an exciting Dual Meet scoring format, the 3rd edition of the Battle of the Central Coast gave 5 points to the winner of an event, 3 points to 2nd, 2 points to 3rd and 1 point to 4th with only two athletes from a given school able to score in any one event.
Right from the gun, the Gauchos showed they were not here to lose another one at home. Juniors Mike Chavez and Micah Tyhurst got out in front in the Men's 3,000m steeplechase in the first event on the track. Going 1-2 in the race, Chavez broke away just over the half way mark as he brought home a NCAA Regional Qualifying mark of 8:59.26. Tyhurst would come up just short of the 9:07.00 qualifying time, coming across the tape in 9:08.50, but nonetheless ran his 2nd fastest time in the steeple. Chavez is now ranked 2nd in the Big West and will be right around 30th among NCAA Div. I athletes.
In the 4x100m Relay the Men would duplicate the women's win with a seasonal best 41.61, moving the baton around the track well. Poly would finish over a second behind in 42.73. Up next on the track was a highly anticipated Men's 1500m. With not one Big West athlete under 3:50 prior to this race, it was known going in that besides winning it, Regional Qualifying marks were at stake set at 3:47.80.
Sophomore Chris Ashley for the Gauchos got out in front early to make sure the pace was kept honest. The front pack of two Gauchos and four Mustangs would come through 400m in 60 point followed by an 800m split of 2:02. At 1200m Ashley would take the still close knit pack through approximately 3:03-3:04. Six athletes would run under 3:50 with the Mustangs sweeping the event, however, Ashley would hold onto a four second personal best of 3:48.87, his first time under 3:50, while Senior Scott McConville would notch a seasonal best of 3:49.12.
Kent Centers (Jr.) has been known to throw himself in any event to pick up points where needed for the Gauchos. Saturday afternoon was no different as he jumped in three events and one relay preparing himself for his first decathlon at the Big West Championships this weekend in Northridge, CA. Beginning with the 110m High Hurdles, he would finish 2nd in 16.04 while teammate Nino Kolyouthapong would finish 3rd in 16.08 also racing in an event he usually does not compete in. In such a close team battle these points would prove to be invaluable at the end of the afternoon.
The best break through performance on the track was won by Freshman Kris Shirley on Saturday as he would drop over a second in the 400m Dash taking out top ranked Pappalardo coming in. Covering the last 200m with blazing speed he would cross the tape in 47.57. Shirley is now ranked 2nd in the Big West by only .03 seconds and also finds himself #7 on the UCSB All-Time list. Max Bellissimo also in the race for the Gauchos would finish 3rd in a seasonal best mark of 48.67. Last year's All-Conference finisher at 400m, Bellissimo is getting healthy after a bout with sickness through the mid part of the season. Saturday's time is only .02 off of his personal best achieved last year at the '05 Big West Championships.
In the Men's 100m Dash, Ryan Donnelly (Jr.) who has been having a great year in the short sprints kept UCSB on top by winning the fastest event on the track after a slow start in 10.94. Jason Newland (Fr.) would wind up third in a seasonal best 11.21. Half way through the track events, UCSB was up 35 to 28.
Out on the field the Gauchos had their hands full through the first set of events going off at noon and 1:00pm. Ryan Donnelly, '05 Regional Qualifier in the Long Jump, took his first title of the afternoon by winning the long jump in 22-06.50, however the Mustangs would grab 2nd and 3rd. In the Men's Pole Vault, Ruarke of SLO would beat out Gaucho Eugene Tuzkov who slipped to a tie for 2nd, having to split five points with another Mustang. Centers for UCSB would clear 14 feet for the second time this season getting 4th and a very valuable one point.
In the Men's Javelin Throw, Conference leader, Gabe Mann would again throw over 200 feet but would be outdistance by Mustang rival, Borjas, would toss a eight foot seasonal best, putting out at 218-02. Mann still leads the Big West with his mark of 220-01 heading into the Championships. Also, in the Javelin, Gaucho newcomer John DeLaney continued to improve as he tossed one out past 185 feet, landing the javelin at 186-01, a seasonal best. Delaney is currently ranked 6th in the Conference.
The Men's Shot Put Competition was one of the hottest events on Saturday as three athletes went over the Regional Qualifying mark. Sophomore and '05 Regional Qualifier would toss it 55-08.25, just shy of his 55-11 personal best, but would be out distanced by White of SLO who went 55-09. Behind Anderson however was four more Gauchos, with Jeff Stewart (So.) setting a personal best and Regional Qualifying mark of 55-02.75. Also, over fifty feet was Matt Barkley (So.) who already has an '06 Regional Mark, as well as Timothy Delmundo (Fr.) who set a personal best mark of 51-10.50.
Rounding out the barrage of Regional Qualifiers in the first half of the Battle of the Central Coast was Jacob Maus (So.) who had been flirting with 6-10.75 for the last few meets in the High Jump. With a part grass runway, Maus would soar over the Regional mark, setting a personal best and tying for the #6 UCSB All-Time mark. He would then take a few near clearances at over 7 feet but was unsuccessful. Centers in his third event, his main one, would clear 6-06.75, remaining consistent at that height for '06 and scoring some much needed points for the Gauchos. The Gauchos were now up only 60.5 to 57 points.
On the track, the Gauchos would relinquish the lead after the Men's 800m and a Poly sweep. However, Jeff Campbell (Fr.) who had to overcome a minor injury early in the season showed that he is back on track as he ran a seasonal best and just shy of his personal best clocking a 1:53.94 for 3rd. Sophomore Rob Handley, a walk on for the Gauchos was 4th in a personal best 1:55.25. Two more break through performances would put the Gauchos back on top with the 400m Hurdle event. Freshman Elmer Guzman would come across the line first in a two second personal best 55.68, while Albert Rojas (So.) would also take over two seconds off his best finishing in 57.12.
Another Donnelly, Pappalardo showdown welcomed the 200m dash fans as another slow start by Donnelly had him back in 4th coming onto the homestretch. He would pick up his game as he powered down the homestretch, flying by a teammate and two Mustangs, equaling his personal best of 21.74. Coming off his 400m seasonal best, Bellissimo finished 4th in 22.13 just .07 off his seasonal best.
Then in the 5,000m event, the Mustangs would again get the upper hand in the distances as they swept the top two spots. Tim Aukshunas (Jr.) and Waleed Totari (Fr.) for the Gauchos nonetheless fought to the finish as they walked away with new personal bests of 14:52.28 and 14:56.19 respectively. With one track event remaining, the Gauchos were now down half a point 81 to 80.5.
Out on the field the squads would split evenly the Discus and Triple Jump with Anderson and Travis Leonard setting personal bests in the Discus at 159-09 and 154-01 going 1-2, however, the Mustangs would go 1-2 in the Triple Jump keeping Poly ahead by half a point, 92 to 91.5. The 4x400m Relay and the Hammer Throw remained.
With the 400m Gaucho athletes running their best this afternoon already and a newcomer to the squad for '06 in Donnelly who was part of the '05 Championship relay team things were looking bright for UCSB. Bellissimo would lead for the Gauchos as a conservative first 200m kept him in striking distance of the Mustang squad. He then poured it on the final 200m putting the Gauchos in the lead for good. Donnelly would take the baton 2nd extending the lead for the Gauchos, while Justin Morgan (So.) maintained it for their anchor, Shirley. With a comfortable lead, Shirley would come home in a low 49 split setting a new best for the Gauchos of 3:15.26 and put the Gauchos up 96.5 to the Mustangs 95 with one event remaining. The Men's 4x400m Relay squad will enter the Big West Championships with the 3rd best time.
Reif Lawson (So.) entered the Hammer Ring for the Gauchos after an average Discus performance. With the team title on the line however at home, Lawson would go big notching the Gauchos fifth new Regional qualifying mark of the afternoon and clinching the Battle of the Central Coast title. His mark of 189-02 ranks 3rd in the Big West as he has improved his mark by almost thirty feet this year. Stewart for the Gauchos looking for his 2nd regional qualifying mark of the afternoon came up just a bit short at 180-08, but nonetheless set a personal best and grabbed a 2nd place, for a UCSB sweep of the event.
The Gauchos will begin the Big West Championships this weekend on Saturday and Sunday at Northridge, CA with the heptathlon and decathlon competitions. Set to go for UCSB will be Centers in his first attempt at the decathlon. The rest of the squad will join him the following weekend in Northridge for the conclusion of the Championships. The Men will be looking to improve upon their 3rd place finish last year as they will have to fight the Mustangs again as well as tough squads from Cal St. Northridge and Cal St. Long Beach.