Albuquerque, N.M. - The UC Santa Barbara women began their stint at the indoor season this past weekend by flying all the way out to New Mexico to compete at the Dr. Martin Luther King Junior Collegiate Invitational hosted at the Albuquerque Convention Center just shy of 5,000 ft. elevation. The Gauchos took this opportunity to catch a glimpse of their current fitness levels and came back with more than expected.
"This was an excellent test for our women and an opportunity for them to showcase the quality work they have put in leading up to the season," remarked Interim Head Track and Field Coach Gray Horn. "I think we all got an idea of where we stand, and what specific things we need to improve on before we head to Seattle next weekend. I'm also very excited about our freshman class considering the potential they showcased at the meet."
Senior Hope Bender spearheaded the Gaucho effort this past weekend with an impressive 8.40 personal best clocking in the fastest section of the 60m hurdles. She took to the field with stride which included four NCAA D1 Outdoor Championship Qualifiers and one NCAA D2 Outdoor Finalist in the 100m hurdles in 2018.
Junior Josephine Graeber led a strong contingent in the long jump with a fourth place finish overall in 5.78m (18' 11 ¾"), an indoor personal best and the second farthest jump in her athletic career. Behind Graeber, true freshman Jiana Boston set a new overall personal best by over six inches with a 5.65m (18' 6 ½") jump to take sixth, while senior Cassidy Peng took eighth in a new indoor best of 5.61m (18' 5").
The throws group had quite the field day in more ways than one as all three competitiors, Gabriella Sanchez, Tori Palma, and Samantha Ruggles, all set personal bests in the weight throw, Palma throwing 15.43m (50' 7 ½"), Sanchez at 15.23m (50' 0"), and Ruggles finishing with 14.66m (48' 1 ¼"). True freshman Sanchez would also throw a personal best in the shot put with a mark of 12.45m (40' 10 ¼").
Next week the women will set out to Seattle for some more indoor competition at the UW Invitational. Check back at UCSBGauchos.com for future coverage and follow the team on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for additional photos and news.