WESTWOOD, Calif. - UCSB senior Shyan Vaziri won the men's elite mile at the UCLA Legends Distance Carnival Friday evening, April 1st, setting the stage for a successful weekend of track and field for the Gauchos. Vaziri came within two-hundreths of a second away from breaking the magical four minute barrier in the mile but his converted 1500m time of 3:43.23 will become the new UCSB record in the event.
Vaziri stepped onto the track as the lights in Drake Stadium were coming into full glow. Taking on a field of twelve runners, including two other Gauchos (Thomas Poston and Bradford Littooy), Vaziri chased history in a rare mid-season showcase of America's premier running event.
While contested during the NCAA indoor season, the mile gives way to the international 1500m metric once the roof is lifted during the outdoor season. But on a calm spring evening in April, UCLA brought the event back into focus.
Opening with laps of 59 and 60 seconds, Vaziri breezed through 800m, just under target pace. As the pacer stepped off the track, Vaziri and Co. were left to take the reign. The front pack remained intact, but the pace had slowed to a 62...now over 2 seconds off the goal, could it still be done?
A shout from Head Coach Dolan indicated that the last quarter had to be run in 57 seconds and Vaziri responded immediately. He had looked calm and collected the entire race, but now a sense of urgency overcame the senior as he approached the final lap. In a showcase of excellent mid-season form, Vaziri started to accellerate and pulled farther and farther away from the rest of the field as the crowd grew in excitement watching the clock. A final push the last 50 meters and into the finish line resulted in widespread cheers and then groans. The announcer read out the official time: 4:00.01. Vaziri had produced a 57 second last lap, a NCAA leading time, and a new school record. But the two hundredths of a second would still sting. A sting that will hopefully fade away as the Senior goes forward in this historic 2016 campaign of his.
Friday Night Lights
Vaziri was just one of the many great performances by the Gaucho distance squad under the Drake Stadium lights. Junior Maxine Goyette got the meet started with a 17-second personal best in the 3000m Steeplechase with a mark of 10:29.87 to finish second in her race, moving her to #4 UCSB All-Time.
Tori Tsolis and Jenna Hinkle then set big new 1500m personal bests of 4:21.38 and 4:29.82, respectively. Tsolis is now within half a second of the UCSB School Record.
Thomas Poston's 4:06.56 mile performance converts to a 3:48.29 1500m which puts him at #9 UCSB All-Time.
In the 5000m Elite Heats, Senior Anthony Ortolan took to the track on his quest to break the 14-minute barrier this season. Through two miles, the pace was not on par to the task. This did not stop the NCAA XC National qualifer from running 14:06.45, a personal best and #6 UCSB All-Time in the event.
UCLA Legends of T&F Invitational
Although the distance carnival was over, the weekend was just beginning as the UCLA Legends Invitational commenced Saturday morning. Many Gauchos set new personal bests and top-10 marks throughout the day at Drake Stadium.
Need for Speed
Sike Azu-Rondi notched a 10.91 performance in the 100m dash, a UCSB debut for the transfer student from College of the Canyons. Alex Hennies, also a sophomore, dipped under 50 seconds for the first time with a 49.82 mark in the 400m. Shyan Vaziri came back to double in the 800m with a season best mark of 1:49.48.
Freshman Sierra Emrick cleared a new bar in the Pole Vault with a 12'11.75" as she comes very close to joining the 13-foot club. She places second on the day and improves her mark at #2 UCSB All-Time. Fellow Freshman Cassidy Peng also gets on the list with a #8 PR performance of 11'8".
Jessica Emde places second in the High Jump with a clearance of 5'10", her best so far this outdoor season. Freshman Alivia Shleuter records a big wind-legal triple jump of 39' 2.25". #5 on the UCSB All-Time list for our new triple jump phenom.
Jazmin Moss also lept out to a big mark in the triple, landing 39'1.25 from the take off board.
Junior Valerie Nelson released the hammer into a new PR of 180'00" to place 6th overall. This mark earned her the #5 UCSB All-Time spot.
Next up is the Big West Challenge Cup this Friday, April 8th. Stay tuned for the meet preview and make sure to like and follow our Facebook and Twitter pages for live updates, results, and video recaps.