Men's Big West Championships Preview

May 11, 2005

The postseason has finally arrived! After months of training, preparing and racing, the Big West Championships begin today May 12th with the Decathlon and Heptathlon competitions. Friday, May 14th marks Day 1 of all other Track & Field events. A lot like the Holiday season, the Gauchos are confident they have done everything well enough to have a few presents underneath the tree; however they will not know what they are until that day when they finally get to open them.

The four day meet will showcase nine Big West teams including, CS Fullerton, CS Northridge, CS San Luis Obispo, Idaho, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, UC Riverside, UC Santa Barbara and Utah State. At the end of the four days the team with most points will be awarded either the Men's Championship or the Women's Championship. An individual may earn points for their team by finishing in the top eight scoring positions in a given event, with scoring as follows from 1st place to 8th place: 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1.

On the men's side, the Gauchos are coming off a disappointing 4th place at the 2004 Championships. With a chance at 3rd, the baton in the 4x400m was knocked out of Ben Armel's (Sr.) hand just keeping UCSB out of the third spot. A top three finish again for the Gauchos will not come easy with limited numbers in certain events. In a hotly contested Track & Field Conference this year, the Gauchos will rely on their distances and throws to pick up the points for the team.

Friday, May 13th

Beginning Friday afternoon, Gabe Mann (Jr.) will look to put points up on the board first to set the tone at 1pm. A walk-on and former Baseball player for the Gauchos, Mann has thrust himself to the top of the Big West in the Javelin with a 206-07 foot throw. His mark is almost ten feet ahead of the 2nd ranked McCoy out of Long Beach St.

Next up on the field for the Gauchos will be the Men's Pole Vault where Sean Thomas-Bignami (Jr.) is currently ranked 2nd along with two others at 16-06.75 feet. Only Vandrovec of Fullerton has jumped higher with a vault of 16-10.75.

At 5:00pm the Men's Long Jump and what should be an exciting Shot Put competition get ready to roll. In the Long Jump for the Gauchos, Isaac Herrera (Jr.) has leaped the 5th farthest in the Big West with a 23-05.5 jump. Preston Biller (Sr.) only four inches behind him is ranked 9th.

The Shot Put witnesses two 60 foot plus throwers from Idaho and Utah State. Gaucho Scott Anderson (Fr.) comes in ranked 3rd with a throw of 55'11.25 done just a week ago in Northridge. Eugene Bradley (Jr.) is ranked 7th, while Ryan Lockner (Sr.) takes the ninth position.

On the track Friday, the Men's 3,000m steeplechase will go off at 3:00pm, the first track final of the Championship. For the Gauchos, Scott Brandos is coming off of a personal best performance two weeks ago racing to a 9:04.15, 3rd in the Big West. Bruce and Llamas from Cal Poly are seeded ahead of him, while Dunn and Dougherty also from Cal Poly racing their first steeple will provide some more competition for Brandos. Alex Cardiasmenos (Sr.) for UCSB comes in ranked 7th with a mark of 9:20.17.

The only other final on the track Friday night is the 10,000m. A 25 lap affair the Gauchos are placing five attempting to grab some needed points. Jeff Gardina (Sr.) comes in as the top Gaucho with a mark of 30:01.91 for 2005. He was 3rd a year ago and may surprise some this year after coming off of an 8:21 3,000m two weeks ago. Also in this race for UCSB is Micah Tyhurst (So.), certainly the most consistent long distance athlete for the Gauchos. He holds a 5K personal best of 14:17. Art Avitia (So.), Loren Bland (Jr.) and Jason Boyce (Sr.) will also be vying for those top eight scoring positions.

Saturday, May 14th

Early Saturday morning the Big West Championship meet gets started with the Hammer Throw. With the top seven marks Regional Qualifying throws, UCSB will have their hands full. Bradley comes in ranked 3rd with a toss of 199-00 feet. Selby of Northridge and Beerer of Irvine are ahead of him with throws just over 200 feet.

For the Gauchos in the High Jump at 2:00pm, Jacob Maus (Fr.) and Kent Centers (So.) come in tied for 8th with jumps of 6-08.75. Two years ago, Centers similarly came into the Championships low on the list, but ended up finishing 2nd with a jump over 6'11".

Finishing up the field events, Reif Lawson (So.) is ranked 10th, but could sneak into the top eight scoring position if he maintains his consistency. On the track, the Gauchos will continue to look at their middle and long distance athletes for some points. In the 400m, Max Bellissimo (Fr.) goes in ranked 10th with only two tenths separating him from the eight spot that could qualify him into Saturday's finals.

At 800m, the reigning Big West Champion and Western Regional Champion return to defend their slew of 1-2 finishes. Ben Armel (Sr.) is ranked 1st with a mark of 1:48.50, while Tetlo Emmen (Jr.) is ranked 2nd at 1:48.72. Justin Coburn (Jr.) may be a sleeper into the finals as he is currently ranked 9th with a mark of 1:53.40. Spots four through nine are separated by only half a second.

One of the deepest fields of the Championships, the Men's 1500m, features six under the Regional Qualifying mark and the top nine all under 3:50. School Record holder Scott McConville (Jr.), ranked 3rd, will be preoccupied with two strong Cal Poly runners ranked just ahead of him by less than a second and two Irvine athletes behind him also by less than a second. Mike Chavez (So.) entering the meet ranked 6th will attempt to swoop into the top three spots with also less than a second separating him and McConville.

The 5000m, always a crapshoot, has most of the distance runners coming off steeples, 10K's or 1500 races. A race of attrition, Santa Barbara fields ten athletes attempting to score for the Gauchos. Micah Tyhurst goes into it after a 10K the night before ranked 9th with a 14:17. Also for the Gauchos, McConville (14:38), Cardiasmenos (14:41), Chavez (14:43), Avitia (14:47), Gardina (14:51), Bland (14:52), Tim Aukshunas (Fr.-15:03), Boyce (15:08), and Brandos (15:12) will get after it at 5:25pm.

Finishing off the meet for the Gauchos will be a 4x400m team seeking redemption after last year's debacle. Although only having run 3:19 in 2005, the team setup for the Championships will include 800m athletes, Armel and Emmen both having 400m times in the 48's this year. Bellissimo who has also run 48's consistently this year and Ryan Donnelly (Jr.) will attempt to sneak into the top three spots fighting for the Championship. UC Irvine holds the fastest mark with a 3:11.82 run a week ago.

Come out join the Gaucho Family in Irvine. See www.ucsbtrack.com for complete time schedules and meet information.