Jan. 31, 2011
SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - On Friday, Jan. 26 at the University of Washington Track and Field Indoor Invitational UC Santa Barbara's Barbara Nwaba set a new school standard with a score of 4,140 points in the pentathlon. Nwaba's total surpassed the NCAA automatic qualifying mark for the Indoor Championships in Eugene, Ore, in March. She becomes the first UCSB athlete to ever qualify for the Indoor Championships.
Nwaba placed second overall at the Invitational, bettered only by the three-time defending NCAA Division I Champion in the pentathlon. In each of the five events of the contest, Nwaba placed no lower than third. Her score ranks her second in NCAA Division I and also currently places her in the top-10 in the world.
"The combined events are all about being able to transition from one event to the next, and Barbara does this better than anyone I've ever worked with," commented Associate Head Coach Josh Priester. "Barbara is really starting to emerge as one of the best combined events athletes in the U.S." The women's indoor pentathlon is a five-event contest in which athletes are awarded points according to how well they do in each event. The events of the pentathlon are the 60m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump and the 800m. The competition rewards the athletes for succeeding in a wide variedly of skill events which encompasses different disciplines.
"The hurdles were a tremendous breakthrough as was the shot to go along with her strongest event the high jump," Priester remarked.
Nwaba is a junior from Los Angeles, where she attended University High School and was a four-year varsity athlete. Upon her arrival at UCSB she has been the athlete to beat in the heptathlon, 100m hurdles and the 400m hurdles, all of which are events in which Nwaba holds UCSB records. In 2010 she set personal bests including 5,552 points in the heptathlon at the Big West Championships and a 5'9.25" in the high jump. She set a school records in the 400m hurdles (60.93) and 100m hurdles (14.21) during the 2009 season.
Also making a strong appearance at the University of Washington Track and Field Indoor Invitational was sophomore Irene Kujore who set a personal best of 17.47m in the weight throw. Jean Lightfoot also had an outstanding performance with a throw of 14.78 in the shot put.
Nwaba and the rest of the Gauchos will again on display in Albuquerque, N.M., as the team travels to the University of New Mexico for an indoor meet on February 4th and 5th. But the event that Priester is most excited about is the NCAA Indoor National meet on March 11th and 12th at Texas A&M where he feels that Nwaba can score even higher in areas where she left a few points on the table.
The Gauchos open their outdoor season on Feb. 19 when they host The Gaucho Round-up at Westmont College.