May 17, 2008

Three Event Champions Highlight Day One of the Conference Championships for UCSB

May 17, 2008

Link to Real-Time Results

NORTHRIDGE, Calif. -- Three event titles were claimed by the UCSB Track and Field team on day one of the Big West Conference Championships. A number of athletes also advanced past the qualifying rounds into tomorrow's final heats in the sprinting events.

The first championship went to senior Michael Powers in the men's steeplechase, who ran a 9:05.08. He was about a second ahead of Cal Poly's Carl Dargitz, and nine seconds ahead of UCI's Sky Johnston, who took second and third respectively. Julian DeRubira was just behind them in fourth place, picking up five team points for the Gauchos. This is the first individual title for Powers, who finished runner-up to UCSB's own Mike Chavez in last season's steeplechase.

The Gaucho women claimed the 10,000m for the fifth straight season, as Danielle Domenichelli was the winner with a time of 36:14.49. She spent most of the race leading the main pack of runners, who were forced to chase down Erinn Kim from UC Irvine after she dashed out to an early lead. Danielle took the lead from Kim with about ten laps to go, and then traded the lead a few times with Kaitlin Gregg from UC Davis and Grace Gonzalez from Cal State Fullerton before breaking away and winning the race by fourteen seconds. Danielle is now on the UCSB top-10 list in the 10,000m, 5000m, and 1500m.

The men's 10,000m was the final event on the track this afternoon, and Chris Ashley finally got his elusive Conference Title. He took a commanding lead and won the race with a time of 31:21.93. Tim Aukshunas completed the one-two finish fifteen seconds later, crossing the line in 31:36.69. The two teammates broke away from the pack after a tentative start, and they had the race under complete control from that time forward. Ashley and Aukshnuas are also entered in the 5000m tomorrow evening, and are considered to be among the favorites in that race as well.

The first event on the track was the women's steeplechase, which was won by Carolyn Ellis from Cal State Fullerton with a time of 10:37.21. It was a tough race for Bethany Nickless, who fell over a barrier while she was in the lead. Despite the setback, Nickless was able to complete the race and earn a podium finish, taking third place with a time of 10:48.99.

In the sprints, Sheneice Vargas earned a spot in the 400m finals by running a personal best in today's qualifying round. She took second place in her section with a time of 56.77, which is the seventh-fastest going into the finals. Jason Newland made it to the final in the men's 100m dash, running a 10.63. That's his fastest time on the season, and he ranks sixth going into the final.

Other good performances included Elmer Guzman in the 400m hurdles, who qualified for the finals with a time of 54.12, his fastest on the year. Jeff Stewart scored points in the hammer with a fourth-place throw of 177'9" (54.18m). Stewart will compete in the shot put tomorrow at noon, and he is the defending Conference Champion in that event.

Cal State Northridge leads the men's team competition with 69 points, seven ahead of Long Beach with 62 points. UCSB is currently in third with 37.5 points, followed closely by UC Irvine with 33 points and Cal Poly with 26.5 points. UC Davis is next with 21 points, with Cal State Fullerton's 15 points and UC Riverside's 9 points rounding out the scoring.

Cal State Northridge also leads the women's scoring with 78 points, followed by Cal Poly with 64 points. A big gap separates Poly from third-place Long Beach State, who have 32.5 points. Following them are Cal State Fullerton with 30.5 points, UC Riverside with 23 points, UCSB with 17 points, UC Irvine with 15 points, and UC Davis with 13 points.

The Big West Championships conclude tomorrow afternoon, starting with the men's shot put at noon. The first running event is the 4x100 meter relay at 3:00 p.m., and the final event with be the 4x400m relay at 6:00 p.m.

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