A small contingency of female Gauchos came up to Seattle for the UW Invitational to break away from the monotony of preparation for the outdoor season, and the ladies were treated well in the famous Dempsey Indoor Facility with impressive highlights from the likes of Hope Bender in the pentathlon and Kiely Gode in the long jump throughout the course of the two day meet.
The day one crowd witnessed war of attrition between the likes of junior Hope Bender and Arizona's Alyssa Thompson. Bender would take an initial strong start with a personal best in the 60m hurdles, but Thompson would not stray too far behind as the pentathlon. Hope would maintain the lead throughout the first three events, but would find herself behind the formidable Arizona Wildcat going into the 800m after Thompson put up a mark of 18' 10" in the long jump. In order to clench the individual title, Hope would need to best Alyssa by a good six plus seconds in the 800m final. The Gaucho junior would find her six seconds, but only enough to pull the scores to a tie. When all was said and done, both athletes were rewarded with a mutually shared first place victory, dead even at 3884 points.
As of the writing of this article, Hope is currently slated in 17th place on the national qualifying list, just one spot outside of qualifying for nationals. Despite this, there is still plenty of time before the qualifying window closes, so Hope still has an opportunity to improve upon her current position before Indoor Nationals take place in March.
Though Bender would be the talk of the day amongst the small Santa Barbara squad, senior Kiely Gode would steal the show on day two with an incredible effort in the long jump. Virtually progressing further with each jump, Gode would save her best jump for last as she threw down a mark of 19' 5 ½" inches to take second place overall. Her new mark puts her four inches past her previous outdoor best, and nearly 19 inches past her previous best indoor mark. Out of all six of her attempts, she didn't have a single foul, and every single one went past the 18 foot mark and two were past the 19 foot mark.
Among other notable performances, Brittney Johnson would improve on her 60m best from last week by .04 with a 7.98 clocking. Shamara Carney took her 400m heat by storm, blasting a 56.22 to capture a new overall personal best in that event, indoors or out. Her solo effort would also reward her with a 2.42 second victory over the next closest competitor in her heat. The lady Gauchos would also end up closing the meet by taking a win in the 4x400m relay, winning their heat in a time of 3:53.10.
With that, the next meet on the calendar will be outdoor season opener at Westmont College on February 17th with the Westmont/Pepperdine double dual meet.