SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Competing in a field of seventeen decathletes at the Sam Adams Multi, UCSB sophomore Tyler Neslon held the lead through seven events. Going up against twelve post-collegiate athletes, Nelson gave way in the pole vault but would go on to record the first seven thousand point score of his career, finishing with 7097, the third best score with the new decathlon scoring tables in school history.
A world class field of decathletes and heptathletes assembled at Westmont College Friday and Saturday, April 1-2, to kick off the 2016 Olympic Year qualification for the combined events in America.
Olympic Champion and decathlon world record holder Ashton Eaton competed in the meet alongside world Silver medalist and Olympian, Damian Warner. UCSB alum and two-time Pan Am Cup competitor Derek Masterson was also in attendance.
In the heptathlon, 2016 IAAF World 60m hurdle Champion Nia Ali was in the field along with US Olympic Sharon Day and UCSB alum, Barbara Nwaba, the reigning US Champion in the heptathlon.
The environment was electric as these combined event warriors contested the ten event and seven event disciplines of the decathlon and heptathlon.
Nelson got off to a quick start, running the third fastest 100m time of the meet, 11.07. UCSB freshman, Wyatt Thompson-Siporen crossed the line in 11.45.
Both Gauchos performed well in the long jump, Nelson leaping out to 22'6.75. Thompson-Siporen sailing out to 22'0.5.
Thompson-Siporen delivered a lifetime best in the shot put with a toss of 42'0.25. Nelson hit a solid throw of 43'9, just off his lifetime best.
In the high jump Thompson-Siporen eclipsed a lifetime best of 5'10.5. Nelson jumped one bar under his PB, clearing 6'3.25.
Running against Tom Hopkins from the Santa Barbara Track Club and Warner, the Canadian Olympian, Nelson delivered a gem performance in the 400m. He let the duo take the race out but held his ground into the final straight. With a big finishing stride he crossed the line in 48.92. Hopkins finished in 47.66 while Warner took the win in 46.64, world class decathlon performances.
Thompson-Siporen recorded a lifetime best of 52.91 in heat three.
As the athletes headed into the clubhouse, Nelson received a new bib reminiscent of the Tour De France, declaring him the day one leader.
Starting the second day with the 110m Hurdles, Nelson ran a clean set over the barriers, finishing in 15.33. Thompson-Siporen hit hurdle eight but made a solid save into nine, albeit slowing him to a 17.39 performance.
In the discus Nelson threw a 15 foot lifetime best, spinning the 4.4lb. implement out to 128'8. Thompson-Siporen recorded a mark of 121'5.
Several UCSB alums were in attendance including Tom Harris, the outright school record holder in the decathlon at 7660. Nelson had Harris' full attention going into the pole vault but on a day with difficult wind conditions, a shot at the school record wasn't meant to be.
The entire field struggled to produce big marks in the pole vault, battling head and cross winds throughout the four hour competition. Nelson vaulted over 12'5 with Thompson-Siporen over 13'5, nearly a foot off their lifetime bests.
Nelson bounced back in the javelin, throwing 164'10 in the second round, his best of the competition. Thompson-Siporen made a strong surge in the penultimate event, spearing a new lifetime best of 192'6.
Both men finished with lifetime bests in the 1,500m, Nelson crossing the line in 4:56.89 and Thompson-Siporen in 4:58.75.
Thompson-Siporen finished with a two day total of 6589, seventh All-Time in UCSB history.
UCSB freshman Hope Bender and Gaucho junior Tori Usgaard competed in a field with no fewer than fifteen athletes who have experience at the Collegiate or US National Championships. As the Sam Adams Multi continues to grow, with it does the depth of the field, this year no exception.
Bender and Usgaard got off to a hot start on day one, Bender running the 100m hurdle in 14.28. Usgaard finished in a solid 14.49.
Usgaard cleared 5'3 in the high jump while Bender managed a leap of 4'10.25.
Bender answered her teammate back in the shot put with a throw of 35'7. Usgaard flipped the 8.8lb. implement out to 30'11.
In the 200m, both Gauchos ran against strong fields. Bender held her ground in the second heat of three, crossing the line in a near-pr 24.89 while Usgaard finished in 26.55.
In the long jump Usgaard leapt out to 17'1.25. Bender sailed out to a new personal best of 16'7.
Usgaard threw a new lifetime best in the javelin of 113'5. Bender reached a distance of 93'11.
The field split in the 800m and both Gauchos were placed in the first of two heats. Bender wasted no time taking the race out, establishing the lead before the gunsmoke settled. She would go on to finish in an eye opening 2:!7.45. Usgaard finished in a very respectable 2:21.96.
Bender finished with 4909 points, moving to the #4 All-Time spot in Gaucho history.
Usgaard recorded a score of 4865, finishing her first heptathlon since the 2014 Big West Championship where she placed third in the event.
Sam Adams was the long-time coach for the Gauchos and was known for his passion for the decathlon throughout his 34 years as head coach at UCSB. As an athlete, Sam competed in track and field at Cal Berkeley and finished fifth in the decathlon at the 1956 U.S. Olympic Trials. His expertise in the decathlon launched him into international prominence. He made three trips to the former Soviet Union as coach of national multi-event teams during the Cold War years. This meet is named in his honor and is hosted by Westmont College and former UCSB Coach Josh Priester, now the head of the Santa Barbara Track Club.
Next up for the Gauchos will be the Big West Challenge Cup, hosted by Cal State Fullerton on Friday, April 8th.