Feb. 27, 2007
2007 is shaping up to be a banner year for the Gaucho men. This year's men's squad is revitalized by the return of red-shirting star athletes, Eugene Bradley and Tetlo Emmen. Bradley, who utilized 2006 by moving to Canada to train with legendary throws coach, Antonaly Bonderchuck, returns to the Gauchos in the best shape of his life and equipped with a halcyon calm and confidence that will undoubtedly guide him well through the most elite competitions. Emmen, an All-American, returns to the Gauchos as the 4th best 800m runner in the entire nation, even amongst professionals. During his redshirt year, he managed to shave his personal record down to an uncanny 1:46.89 at the Occidental Invitational in May. He ended the season with a strong 6th place finish at the USA Track and Field National Championships. With these two stellar athletes leading the Gaucho men, there may not be a force in the Conference that could slow UCSB down.
It is certainly not news that Pete Dolan's distance squad is a perennial power, but this year's crew is exceptional. Led by Tetlo Emmen, the distance runners bring 4 Regional qualifiers to the table, as well as a slew of All-Conference finishers and scorers who combined for 56 points at last year's Conference Championships. Micah Tyhurst, who dominated last year's 10k with a dramatic 59-second final lap looks to be a major player again this year in the Big West and West Region. Mike Chavez, a two-time West Regional qualifier and double All-Conference finisher in the 1,500m and 3,000m Steeplechase, might well be a double Conference Champion this year in those events. Chris Ashley, another Regional qualifier also looks to ascend the Conference podium in two events, the 1,500m and the 5k, and also could make an appearance on the national stage in the 5k. Waleed Totari, a young breakthrough performer at last year's Conference Championship 10k, ought to be a major player again this year and, in fact, every stellar performer from last year's Championships is returning for the Gauchos, not to mention superstar, Tetlo Emmen.
The Sprints, Jumps, and Vault
After having suffered through an onslaught of unfortunate injuries in 2006, the sprint, jump, and vault crews are itching to get back into the play and flex some of their muscle. In the sprints, Ryan Donnelly looks to be the lead horse for the Gauchos with his phenomenal power in the 100m and 200m dashes. Having pushed hard through a productive preseason, Donnelly might well be a Regional qualifier in both events this year. The 400m dash should be well-stocked with key scorers, Max Bellissimo and Kris Shirley pushing each other lower and lower into the 40's. The sprint crew will also get a strong speed boost in the 100m and 200m dash from the explosive and recently converted javelin thrower, Nino Kolyouthapong. Young standout hurdler Elmer Guzman is joined by a grip of talented young hurdlers who all look to revitalize the men's Hurdles crew this year. In the Pole Vault, Eugene Tuzkov, whose promising 2006 season was rudely interrupted by a hamstring pull, looks to be a serious threat in the Big West.
The Throws and High Jump
If one were to wonder who could possibly score as many points as the Gaucho distance runners, they would not have to look any further than to John Dagata's throwers and high jumpers. With two-event star, Eugene Bradley, returning to the Gauchos, Dagata brings 6 Regional qualifiers and a Conference Champion to the table. Led by the Conference King of the Shot Put, Jeff Stewart, the Gauchos will unleash 7 massive Shot Putters on the Big West, all with the potential to score at this year's Championships. This big blue wave is bolstered by Regional qualifiers, Matt Barkley and Scott Anderson, who look to climb atop the Conference podium this year. The Hammer is stocked with two Regional qualifiers, Eugene Bradley and Reif Lawson, and Jeff Stewart, who missed the standard by less than a mere 2 feet, looks to add the event to his Regional résumé. In the Javelin, senior, John Delaney, who had a breakthrough PR performance at last years Conference Championships, will lead the charge as one of the top throwers in the Big West and, soon, the West Region. With the addition of senior, Kyle Baker, the Gauchos may have the honor of unloading yet another 60-meter thrower on the Conference this year. Junior High-Jumper and Regional qualifier, Jacob Maus, could easily soar over 7 feet this year, and possibly collect a Conference title in the process.