May 23, 2005
As the dust settles from the 2005 Big West Track & Field Championships, where the Gauchos fought hard to come away with one of the greatest Championship meets in school history, a record eleven men and nine women now prepare for the NCAA West Regional Championships. To qualify for the Regional Championships one must hit a certain standard in each event based on the top-100 marks in NCAA competition of the previous year.
A record setting 2005 thus far has put forty-eight new All-Time Top 10 Marks on the board for the women, including five new school records, culminating with their first ever team Big West Championship. The men saw sixteen new Top 10 marks and one school record ending with a third place finish, their highest since 1996.
The NCAA Regional Championships, now in its third year serves as the first round of the NCAA Championships. The 2005 installment will begin this Friday, May 27th at storied Hayward Field in Eugene, OR on the University of Oregon campus. In the West, competitors from top Western Conferences such as the Big West, Pac-10, WAC and WCC will go for prized spots into NCAA Championships beginning on June 8th in Sacramento, CA.
To qualify an athlete may do one of two things. First, finishing in the top five of one's respective event earns that athlete an automatic qualifying berth into the Championships. Second, if an athlete finishes 6th, 7th or 8th they will be placed into a nation wide "at-large" pool comprised of the 6th, 7th and 8th place finishers from all four regions, giving us a pool of twelve athletes in each event. These twelve will be ranked in order of their seasonal best in which the NCAA will use to fill each event until the 544 athlete per gender cap is reached for the Championships (approximately 6-8 at-larges in each event).
Kylie McCuen (Jr.) will be the sole representative for the female sprinters in Eugene, OR. Big West Track Athlete of the year, McCuen won both the 200m and 400m events at the Big West Championship setting new personal bests and one school record. School Record Holder in the 200m at 23.88, she will go in as the 8th ranked athlete. The fifth ranked in that event has a 23.43 seasonal best. In the 400m, McCuen set a new lifetime best at 54.52 at Big West and is the 9th ranked competitor at Regionals. Fifth in the 400m has a time of 53.76.
On the men's side, the 4x400m relay squad got a berth into the Championships via winning the Conference Championship in this event. With a time of 3:11.93 the Gauchos are the last ones in the field. In order to qualify they will have to hold off strong teams from the Pac-10 Conference. Max Bellissimo (Fr.), Ryan Donnelly (So.), Ben Armel (Sr.) and Tetlo Emmen (Jr.) are set to go for Saturday's final.
Middle & Long Distances
Beginning with the 800m event, Armel and Emmen are returning after they finished 1-2 a year ago. Emmen the returning champ along with Armel will have their hands full in a much stronger West Region this year. Armel will go in ranked 7th at 1:48.50 and Emmen 8th with a 1:48.72. In 2004, Emmen went in ranked 9th and pulled out a win upsetting the entire field. The fifth seed this year has a mark of 1:48.14 with the top four all dipping under 1:48 for their seasonal bests.
At 1500m, School Record Holder Scott McConville (Jr.) and Mike Chavez (So.) will fight for their Nationals berth. Another tough event in the West, the 1500m has the most Regional qualifiers of any of the regions, not to mention the top five national marks. McConville is ranked 20th with a personal best of 3:46.77 and Chavez is 25th at 3:47.61. In order to make finals they will have to be one of twelve athletes to qualify out of Friday's trials. The fifth fastest mark in the West stands at 3:41.62, while the twelfth is 3:45.24.
Choosing to do the 5000m instead of the 1500m, Lauren Christman (Jr.), Lindsay Christman (Jr.) and Cosette Smith (Sr.) all go in ranked in the top eight. Megan Lewis (So.) is the team's fourth qualifier in this event ranked 13th. With many women choosing the 1500m, the steeplechase or even the 10,000m the field was condensed from an initial twenty-one qualifiers to fourteen. La. Christman and Smith go in ranked 3rd and 4th with times of 16:26.37 and 16:30.68 respectively. Li. Christman is 8th with a mark of 16:44.14, while Lewis has a time of 16:51.37 just getting under the qualifying time of 16:52.00.
In the 3,000m Steeplechase, Bethany Nickless (Fr.) and Scott Brandos (Jr.) are both ranked 17th getting them into the faster of two heats on Saturday afternoon. Making her Regional Championship debut, Nickless is the School Record Holder with a 10:43.71 run at the Big West Championships. The fifth ranked woman has 10:26.71. Brandos holds a personal best of 9:00.32 also run at the Big West Championships. Also one of the toughest Regions, the top five in the West rank in the top eleven nationally, with fifth coming in at 8:42.58
Jumps & Vault
Previously holding a seasonal best of 22'11 feet in the Long Jump, Ryan Donnelly (So.) at the Big West Championships went out and soared to a personal best 24'07, an NCAA Regional mark. Donnelly is ranked tenth in the field with fifth place out at 25'03.25".
The Pole Vault will feature Sean Thomas-Bignami who has vaulted 16'06.75 a couple times this year. His mark, good enough to win the Big West Championships, puts him ranked tied for 10th in the West with nine other vaulters at 16'06.75".
On the Women's side Amy Haapanen (Jr.), Heather Quinn (Jr.) and Rebecca Richey (Jr.) all return to the Regional Championships. Haapanen, a three-time qualifier for the Championships qualified in the Shot Put, Discus and Hammer Throw in 2005. In 2004 she qualified for all three into the National Championships and holds the UCSB School Records in all as well. She enters the Shot Put ranked 12th with a mark of 50'08.25" feet. Quinn, the Big West Champion in this event is ranked 20th at 47'09". Fifth place in this event is 53'11.25".
In the Discus, Haapanen is ranked 12th with a throw of 165'09" and Quinn is 15th at 163'02". Quinn was also the Big West Champion in the Discus a little over a week ago. The fifth ranked mark stands at 182'04". Out in the Hammer Throw, Haapanen, the Big West Champion at this event as well as Big West Conference Record Holder is ranked 8th with a heave of 194'10" feet. Quinn is ranked 20th with a toss marked at 179'09". The last automatic qualifying spot is currently ranked with a mark of 198'06".
Richey, the School Record Holder in the Javelin qualified for Regionals with an impressive Big West showing. Throwing no farther than 130'03. Her personal best and school record of 146 was thrown in 2004. At the Conference Championship she went in and obliterated her seasonal best and the field going for 150 feet, nabbing 2nd place. Richey now travels to Eugene ranked 18th in the West. The fifth ranked has a mark of 162'08" feet.
The Men's throws squad are sending three to Eugene, OR. Scott Anderson (Fr.) will be making his first appearance at Regionals in the Shot Put. With a mark of 55'11.25" Anderson is ranked 14th in the West Region. The 5th best mark and potentially last auto qualifier to Nationals is at 62'06".
In the Hammer Throw, Eugene Bradley (Jr.) joined the 200 foot club with a toss of 200'01" feet at the Big West Conference Championships. His mark is the 11th best mark in the West Region in 2005 with the 5th mark at 207'10". Bradley has steadily improved throughout the year going into Regionals.
The final thrower, Gabe Mann, came to the Gaucho Track & Field squad from the Baseball program where he competed for two years. In his first year throwing the Javelin he led the Big West Conference with a toss of 206'07" feet. Qualifying for Regionals with that mark he is the 20th ranked athlete. The fifth ranked competitor has a toss of 223'03".
Competition at Hayward Field will begin at 12:00pm on Friday, May 27th and continue on Saturday beginning at 11:00am. Visit www.UCSBTrack.com for meet information and time schedules.