Injuries Slow Gauchos Down to T-4th; Individual Performances Highlight Day 4

May 13, 2006

Final Stats
Big West Championships Event by Event Results
Big West Championships Day 3 Recap

Big West Champions
Micah Tyhurst - 10,000m
Jeff Stewart - Shot Put

Big West All-Conference Honors
Mike Chavez - 3,000m Steeplechase & 1500m
Chris Ashley - 5,000m
Kent Centers - High Jump
Gabe Mann - Javelin

The Gaucho Men were slowed down on Saturday afternoon in the team battle as injuries to their top sprinters sidelined them for the day's events. Nonetheless great individual performances brought excitement to the UCSB fans as the Gauchos slipped to a tie for 4th place with the Cal St. Northridge Matadors as both teams put up 114.5 in a close battle for 3rd, which the Cal St. Fullerton Titans won with 116.50 points. The Long Beach St. 49ers won the Championship with 195.50 points.

Starting the day off for UCSB, the field events heated the valley floor as the exciting Men's Shot Put competition got underway at Noon. The Gauchos had four qualified with Scott Anderson (So.), Matt Barkley (So.), Timothy Delmundo (Fr.) and Jeff Stewart (So.) looking to do some more damage after last year's 5th-8th finish to score some big points in '05. On Stewart's first throw of the day he would put one out past 16 meters to jump into the early lead in flight one. Then on his 2nd throw, Stewart would unleash a 17.20 meter (56-05.25) bomb on the competition, the second farthest throw in the Conference this year by one inch, his personal best and #2 All-Time at UCSB.

Firing up his teammates and fans, the roar surrounding the ring was enough for Delmundo to get in the game improving on his 2nd and 3rd round tosses to 51-08.50, just two inches off his life time best. He would unfortunately finish just outside finals qualification but nonetheless concluded a Freshman season which saw him throw a personal best with the 16lb. shot, further than he did as a High School Senior with the 12lb. shot.

In Flight 2, Anderson and Barkley would struggle a bit qualifying into finals as the 6th and 7th seed. Stewart would enter finals as the leader, with Chris White of Cal Poly just four inches away and the Conference leader, Brian Moon of Irvine still in the hunt. Of the top three only Moon would improve his throw in the three final rounds as Stewart would win his first Big West Championship title in a close competition. Anderson and Barkley looking to capitalize on Moon throwing a bit off, looked for the third place All-Conference finish but would come up just short. Nonetheless they would both improve in the 5th round as they moved into the 4th and 5th place positions as Anderson would go 54-06.75 and Barkley 54-01.75 to score 19 points to begin the final day of competition.

Next up was the High Jump featuring Kent Centers (Jr.) and Jacob Maus (So.). Last time the Championships were held at Cal St. Northridge was 2003, when Centers was a Freshman and the Gauchos had not heard of Maus. Centers on that Saturday afternoon shocked the field taking his 5-10 frame over 6-11 good for an All-Conference 2nd place finish. Coming into Saturday's final Centers had only jumped 6-08.75 once in 2006, last weekend in the decathlon competition where he finished 7th in his first dec. Maus coming in leaped 6-10.75 two weeks ago at home versus Cal Poly putting him in a four way tie for 3rd in the Conference, while Centers was all alone in 4th.

With the number of misses being so important in a Championship setting, the plan was to come in at 6-06.75 and get over the bar first. At their first height...first attempt...cleared it. 6-08.75...first attempt...cleared it. Maus then encountered problems at his lifetime best of 6-10.75. However, Centers jumping 2nd to last at 6-10.75...first attempt...cleared it. With Maus unable to clear the height, but with first attempt clears at the previous heights he would finish 6th place. Centers would enter the next height, 6-11.75, along with four others in a tie for 1st place based on misses. Just missing the height and with only one able to clear it, Centers would finish 2nd, another All-Conference finish in his career.

On the track, the distance squad looked to pick up some more points after its successful Steeplechase and 10,000m races on day three. First up was the 1500m race containing the `06 runner-up from the steeplechase in Mike Chavez (Jr.), 5,000m Conference leader in Chris Ashley (So.) as well as UCSB School Record holder Scott McConville (Sr.). A slow Championship style pace had the field go out in 64 seconds with none of the favorites taking the pacing duties. Another slow lap of 65 saw the race go through the 800m in 2:10. Then things picked up as their next 300m was 44 seconds taking the still tightly grouped field through the bell in 2:55.

Ashley and Chavez along with their Cal Poly rivals sprinted around the final lap with Chavez splitting a 56 second lap coming just short of the winner as Ashley, a more distance oriented athlete, tied up the last few meters finishing in 4th with a 3:52.98. McConville who had fallen off the lead pack on the final lap, found another gear on the homestretch snagging 6th over another Mustang. With a 2, 4, 6 finish the Gauchos were able to pick up 16 points in the race for UCSB.

In the 400m final, Freshman Kris Shirley stepped into his blocks after qualifying Friday afternoon with a 48.61. Two weeks ago at home versus Cal Poly he had run a 47.57 setting a personal best by approximately a second. In his first finals appearance a fast Big West 400m greeted him with two athletes dipping under 47 and two more under 48. Shirley would cross the line in 48.34, good for 7th, demonstrating his ability to stay consistent at the end of the season.

An event the Gauchos have dominated over the last couple of years, UCSB went into the 800m finals without a favorite. Jeff Campbell (Fr.) coming off of injuries earlier in the season came in with something to prove. A California prep star, Campbell ran a smart, fast race in the prelims where he set a lifetime best of 1:52.48. Always tough to double back after a fast performance he showed consistency with a 1:53.60, his second fastest time of his career, good for 6th place in his first Big West Championship performance. All-American and red-shirting Tetlo Emmen for UCSB was also busy at Occidental College on Saturday where he obliterated a fast field in a new lifetime best of 1:46.89. Unofficially that should rank as a top five performance by an American in the 2006 season as well as ranking Emmen in the top twenty world performances of '06.

The final distance event of the Big West Championships was the 5,000m, always a grueling test of guts as many of the athletes bounce back from other previous events. For UCSB, Ashley would be coming off of his 4th place 1500m finish just two hours earlier and 2006 Big West 10,000m Champion Micah Tyhurst would also get after the 10k double. With nobody controlling the race, the field set out at 75 second laps for the first mile. It then would drop to a 68 second lap and fluctuate over the next few laps as again, characteristic of distance finals, the leaders hung back and waited. With approximately a mile to go, Jim Grabow of Long Beach St. would drop the hammer on the field, stringing it out rapidly. A pack of Poly and Santa Barbara athletes followed in close pursuit.

Ashley, the Conference leader in this event, showed fatigue after his 1500m, as he was unable to cover another drop in pace on the final lap. He would fight down the stretch coming just short of a Mustang and one second off Grabow for an All-Conference 3rd place in 14:49.33. Tyhurst, sluggish after his 59 second last lap on Friday to win the 10k, hung in around 6th and 7th place until he again got on his toes and sprinted his way into 4th place putting three seconds on the chase pack coming home in 14:52.05.

With those eleven points, the Gauchos maintained hope of a third place finish with one event remaining the 4x400m relay. With Max Bellissimo (So.) and Ryan Donnelly (Jr.) out with injuries suffered earlier in the Championships, a squad was put together Saturday morning to toe the line. Replacing the two would be Kai Glover (So.) and Jason Newland (Fr.). Glover ran an outstanding leg earlier in April at the Big West Challenge Cup, where as Newland had not run with the "A" squad all year, focusing on the 100m event and 4x100m relay. Joining them would Justin Morgan (Jr.) and Shirley (Fr.).

Needing to beat Fullerton and Northridge for 3rd place they would come up just short, however run a great time without two of their best 400m runners. Shirley would open up with a great leg as Morgan would keep the Gauchos in the game on the 2nd. Then Glover again ran a quick 3rd leg placing UCSB in the mix but toward the back of the lead pack. With a few sub 48 and 47 guys to go against on the anchor leg, Newland would fall back to 6th, but ahead of Cal Poly and their second fastest time of the year, 3:15.58.

The Gauchos next look toward the NCAA Regional Championships held at BYU in Provo, UT in two weeks where the best in the West will compete against each other for the coveted NCAA National Championship spots.