May 11, 2006

Men Looking to Continue Move Up Big West Standings

May 11, 2006

Big West Championships Flights & Heats
Big West Conference Media Release & Time Schedule
Cal St. Northridge Driving and Parking Information
Big West Championships Live Results
2005 Big West Championships Results

6th place, 4th place, 3rd place. The last three year's of the Men's Track & Field squad has seen a steady improvement in many of the event areas putting them in a position this year to continue this rise in the Big West ranks. A tight race for the 2006 Championship title puts them up against the hosts, Cal St. Northridge and rival Long Beach State. Thus far in '06, they won the All-Cal Cup, finished a disappointing 2nd behind LBSU at the Big West Challenge Cup, but then put the hammer down on the Cal Poly Mustangs at home two weeks ago in an exciting dual meet.

This is Track & Field Championship time and anything can happen. As a team, you can bask in the glory of the individual, but at the Big West Championships it is the 5th-8th place finishers that you never see in the papers, making the headlines, that will win you a championship. Here is what the Gauchos will encounter to as they seek out to improve upon their '05 3rd place finish, and here is what they have to do to have the opportunity be left standing at the end of the day as Champions.

Sprints
Slim on the sprints side, a few key competitors can come up big for the Gauchos. Ryan Donnelly (Jr.) has made it through the season without injury, which is a first, and is racing as fast as he has ever gone. His Long Jump, which took him to the NCAA Regional Championships last year has suffered a bit, however, he can make up more for that in the 100m and 200m. With a 10.86, Donnelly will have to have a quick block start which he has been slow to do this year in order to keep up with the leaders. Ranked eighth, he has competed well head to head this year and has consistently stepped up his game come Championship time. Donnelly will then step into his blocks in the 200m as well, ranked fifth along with Max Bellissimo (So.) who comes in at fourteenth. Bellissimo, plagued with a sickness throughout the mid part of the season may be able to surprise some as he attempts to squeeze into finals. Paired together in the same heat of the prelims, also look for a third Gauchos in that same heat three, Gabe Mann (Sr.). UCSB's premier Javelin Thrower has run a 22.33 early in the season and will make an attempt at one of those eight spots. At 400m, Bellissimo, '05 All-Conference finisher at this event will look to repeat his successes as this time he will also have fellow high school and current teammate alongside of him in Kris Shirley (Fr.). Shirley dropped over a second off his best two weeks ago versus Cal Poly and is ranked second in the event by only .03 seconds at 47.57. In the Relays, the Gauchos will look to get the baton around ranked fifth in the 4x100m. LBSU and UC Irvine are currently in striking distance while the Matadors of Northridge and the Fullerton Titans look to battle it out in front. In the 4x400m, the defending champs will look to repeat without a red-shirting Tetlo Emmen and a graduated Ben Armel. Shirley's new found speed, coupled with Bellissimo, an always tough Donnelly and Justin Morgan (Jr.) can make it two in a row, but will have to take down Northridge's relay who have run over a second faster than their third ranked time of 3:15.26.

Middle Distances
Red-Shirting '05 All-American Emmen at 800m will be felt as the Gauchos are not the clear favorites for the first time since 2003. A Freshman in California prep star Jeff Campbell will toe the line as he goes in ranked sixth. Dealing with an early season injury, Campbell has set seasonal bests in his last two 800m races going into Friday's prelims. At 1500m a small gamble by the coaching staff paid off by entering Mike Chavez (Jr.). Ranked second in the 3,000m steeplechase, last year's Regional Qualifier in the metric mile would have approximately twenty five minutes to get ready for the 1500m prelims after the steeple finals. However, with only fifteen athletes entered, the race will be finals only on Saturday. Dealing with some mid-season fatigue, his 8:59 steeple two weeks ago showed that those days are long gone. He will look to challenge the leaders for the All-Conference spots and important team points. Getting most of their competition from Cal Poly, School Record Holder Scott McConville (Sr.) at 1500m is hungry after a few less than ideal races and will find a third Gaucho in Chris Ashley (So.) up in the front pack going head to head versus the Mustangs three athletes. Cal Poly got the upper hand on the Gaucho distance squad two weeks ago only adding more fuel to the fire.

Distances
Loading up the 3,000m steeplechase, Chavez will lead the Gaucho pack to battle with Cal Poly's Luke Llamas who has an 8:45 mark. Behind Chavez will be four Gauchos, Ben Berkowitz (Sr.), Scott Brandos (Sr.), Mike Powers (So.) and Scott Smith (Fr.) looking for those 5th-8th places. The four are entering the event ranked eighth, ninth, eleventh and twelfth. At 5,000m, Ashley leads the Conference by twelve seconds at 14:03, however he will be doubling back after the 1500m to go up against a fresh Troy Sweir of Cal Poly. Sweir recently dropped his seasonal mark to 14:15 two weeks ago and will be attempting to run away from a fatigued Ashley. Micah Tyhurst (Jr.) will double back from the 10k for the second year in a row. In '05 he finished 5th and then took an impressive 3rd place All-Conference finish in a tough field showing his grit. Racing just a few seconds off his personal best in '06, much of the same determination can be expected from the Junior. Other threats to score will come from a tripling Chavez, a doubling back Tim Aukshunas (Jr.), J.D. Krawczyk (Jr.) and Waleed Totari off of the 10k, as well as McConville coming off of a 1500m. In the 10k, a hungry Tyhurst will enter his first race of the Championships on Friday night. After a fifth place finish last year he will look to get on the podium having to go through Long Beach's Jim Grabow and his own teammate Krawczyk who have have both dipped under thirty minutes this year. Also, from Cal Poly, Brian Baker, Jameson Mora and Nathan Brassmassery will look to mix things up, in the front.

Hurdles
The lone representative in the Hurdles for the Gauchos is Freshman Elmer Guzman. A two second drop of his best 400m hurdle time two weeks ago versus Cal Poly moved him up to sixth on the '06 Big West Performance list. A prep star in California, grabbing his rank or more in the race may make a big difference in the team score if close between the three schools at the end of Saturday's competitions.

Pole Vault
Another slim event for UCSB, Eugene Tuzkov (Jr.) can still make a huge impact by scoring for the Gauchos. Ranked seventh coming in with a 15-03, Tuzkov did achieve a lifetime best in the pre-season season kick-off at home when he vaulted 15-07 and can surprise some with 4th-6th places all at 15-07.

Jumps
Right on his pace from '05, Donnelly entered last year's Big West Championships with only a Long Jump mark of 22-11. He then went crazy, leaping 24-07 and taking 4th. This year he goes into the Championships with a jump of 22-10, although he did hit a seasonal of 23-01 at the pre-season home opener. Donnelly, will however have to balance his jumps with the start of the 100m this year. The Long Jump will begin at 4:30 on Friday, with the 100m prelims at 4:55. Over at the High Jump pit, Jacob Maus (So.) had a great leap of 06-10.75, a new personal best for him, moving him up in the Big West to a tie for third in the rankings. Competing well and consistently all season, as is always the case the number of misses will become important as the bar continues to raise. Kent Centers (Jr.) will be coming off of his first decathlon where he finished 7th to focus on his main event, the High Jump. Within the decathlon he jumped a seasonal best of 6-08.25. Always known as a fierce competitor, in '03 he jumped a Regional Qualifying mark and finished on the podium at the Big West Championships setting some new lifetime bests.

Throws
Along with the distance events, the throws will be pivotal in the teams' success. The Gaucho throw squad got it done last year with the 5th-8th positions. Taking it to heart, in the Shot Put ring they finished exactly 5th-8th and even picked up the 9th position out scoring any other team in that event. UCSB again sends out to the ring a strong squad with four of the top eight ranked athletes. Three Sophmores, Scott Anderson, Matt Barkley and Jeff Stewart, along with Freshman Timothy Delmundo are seeking to get this mission accomplished. The sophomores are currently ranked 4th-6th with Delmundo coming in at 8th. This will become one of the highlights of the meet as UCSB's Sophomores all have Regional marks as do the three ahead of them entered in the event. In the Discus, the Gauchos will rely on Anderson to finish off the Championships for the throwers with some more points. Ranked eighth, LBSU has put four in front of UCSB's Anderson. Look for Lawson and Leonard to also pick up on anybody else's mistakes to squeeze into the top eight. The Hammer Throw will kick off all events this weekend at 9am on Friday setting the tone for the team. Lawson and Stewart have made some major strides moving up to where they lye now, third and fourth with personal best throws at the Cal Poly dual meet.. The other Gaucho Red-Shirting comes from this event, All-Conference finisher Eugene Bradley, but his fellow teammates have stepped up into shoes comfortably. Last, but not least, is the battle on the Javelin runway. Gabe Mann (Sr.) goes out this weekend as the favorite. He has thrown 222-02 in preseason and over 220 feet in regular season however has lost to LBSU's McCoy and Cal Poly's Borjas head to head in the month of April. He was third a year ago and will seek to improve on that finish while seeking out the top of the podium.

The Big West Championships begin on Friday afternoon with the Men's Hammer Throw kicking things off on the field at 9am at Cal St. Northridge. Track events will fire away at 2:30 pm with the 3,000m steeplechase. Only an hour drive down the 101, come and support your home team at the Big West Championships!