Spring Break 2006 - McCuen & Middle Distance Runners Run Strong at USC
March 25, 2006
Men's & Women's Recap
If you have not seen a Shot Put competition before, you should. Being a journalist with a distance runner heart, I do like to call the Shot Put, the Mile of the Field Events, and one of my favorites. What makes these Shot comps good is part big men hollering and part a fanatical atmosphere surrounding the great ones. This afternoon at Loker Stadium on the campus of USC, Matt Barkley (So.) used the energized atmosphere around him to unleash a big one for himself and the Gauchos at the Trojan Invitational. Did I mention he is a vegetarian thrower?
Entering the ring, Barkley would catapult himself into third place with a toss of 55-08.50 in a field that was only separated by seven inches between second and sixth place. His mark also qualified him for the NCAA Regional Championships, moves him up to third on the UCSB All-Time list and unofficially ranks second in the Big West (updated 2006 Big West performance list every Tuesday). Sampson who leads the Big West in the Shot Put from Long Beach St. finished 6th this afternoon with a shot of 55-02.25.
Also in the Shot Put, on Friday afternoon, the "B" sections of the Trojan Invite competed and Timothy Delmundo (Fr.) took full advantage setting a personal best at 50-03.50. To put that in perspective Delmundo walked on to the Gaucho squad after getting into UCSB on his own (no easy feat these days) and personal best of just over 50 feet with a 12lb. shot in high school. Yesterday he threw over 50 feet with a 16lb. shot.
Sticking with the field events, Charlene Heaston (So.) set a seasonal best in the Shot Put by going 44-05.25, just over two inches shy of the NCAA Regional mark. Close by the Shot ring, Heidi Nyberg vaulted a Big West qualifying mark of 11-01.75 in her first competition of the 2006 season. Nyberg was 4th last year at the Big West Championships. Travis Leonard (So.) set a seasonal best in the Discus with a throw of 149-11, while Jacob Maus (So.) in the High Jump and Gabe Mann (Sr.) in the Javelin stayed consistent in 2006 with their marks of 6-06.00 and 202-06 respectively.
Out on the track, it was a day for the sprinters to shine with the level of competition that Southern California attracts in the speed events. However, it was a middle distance event that heated things up first for the Gauchos, the Women's 1500m at 11:30am, followed by the men at 11:50. With four women entered in the top section, Megan Lewis (Jr.), Seanna Martin (Sr.), Hadas Moser (Jr.) and Bethany Nickless (So.), they set out to hit some good early season marks as a tune up to next weekends Distance Carnival at the Stanford Invitational.
A fast first lap had them come through 400m in 72 seconds. Two athletes broke away from the field early and left a pack of about eight to chase, including Lewis, Moser and Nickless. Lewis continued to charge from 800m-1200m, while Moser sat back a few meters behind and Nickless about 10 meters behind Lewis. Entering the final 300m, Nickless caught up to Lewis and Moser as they all sprinted to the front of the pack. Lewis would wind up fourth with a 4:32.13 in her first 1500m of the season, while Nickless would set a personal best of 4:33.65 as well as Moser who just dipped under her personal best with a new mark of 4:34.63.
In the Men's top section the Gauchos were led by a trio of Chris Ashley (So.), school record holder Scott McConville (Sr.), and Micah Tyhurst (Jr.). Going out a bit slow for the group, which included at least one previous High School State Champ, McConville darted to the front to keep the pace honest. A tight pack of seven of eight maintained its form as they entered the final 600 meters. The Gaucho trio, Reid of Cal Poly SLO (former CA state high school champ), Wolf of Washington St. and Harmer of Colorado Springs began to break away at that juncture in the race. At the bell, Wolf would take off building a 15-meter lead on the others. Ashley and Reid were in close pursuit as McConville and Tyhurst followed behind. Reid would take the lead into the final turn only to be overtaken by Ashley, also the Big West Cross Country Individual Champion, in the homestretch setting a new personal best of 3:52.17. McConville would unleash a furious last 100m to also pass Reid and finish second with a seasonal best of 3:53.18. Tyhurst would take fourth just missing his personal best by .12 seconds with a time of 3:54.30.
Next on the track for the Gauchos was the 400 meters, highlighted by Kylie McCuen, 2005 Big West Track Athlete of the Year, in the top section. In her first big race of 2006, McCuen would not disappoint grabbing a seasonal best and a 3rd place with a time of 55.25. Just out leaning her was an athlete from Long Beach St., but nonetheless McCuen remains one of the favorites at 400m in the Big West Conference. For the Men, Freshman Kris Shirley notched another seasonal best taking his mark down to 49.69.
In the Men's 100m at 1:20pm, Long Jumper, Ryan Donnelly (Jr.) again got out a bit slow but made up for it in the final 40-50 meters coming across the line in 4th place in the third heat and tied for fourteenth overall in a stacked field in the fastest event on the track. His 10.86 this afternoon ranks 5th All-Time on the UCSB Top-10 lists. Plagued by injuries off and on in his first three years look for a healthy Donnelly to continue to drop his times as the Gauchos enter their homestretch of the 2006 season.
Moving to the final few events, the 800m run went off at 1:40pm with some additional cloud cover moving in from the north and the wind beginning to pick up. Diana Joyner (Jr.) a 400m hurdler jumped in the event for the second time this year notching a seasonal best of 2:18.50, good for sixth. On the Men's side a red-shirting Tetlo Emmen (Jr.) made his 2006 debut in a field worthy of a late season championship. Featuring three 2005 NCAA Championship qualifiers and one Olympic and World Champion (Felix Sanchez - 400m Hurdles), Emmen would finish 4th in a great opening time of 1:50.30. Jeff Campbell (Fr.) also dropped his seasonal best to 1:56.86 as he continues his march back from injury.
Up next in the 400m Hurdles, Stellamarie Hall would run another tough race after last weekends career day, finishing 5th in the top section with a time of 1:03.56. Rounding out the individual track events, the 200m dash would feature Kylie McCuen, school record holder in the event, for the Gauchos. Out of lane six, McCuen would go head to head against one of her main Big West Rivals in Goodwin of CSUN for the first time this year. Starting well, McCuen would just get edged out by Goodwin at the line, but nonetheless setting a seasonal best time of 24.64 with still a lot of racing to go with Championship season starting only in May.
The Women's 4x400m Relay would close out the afternoon as they would set another seasonal best, this time without Elise Geiger (Sr.). Last weekend, the Gauchos ran without McCuen. Kerry Gamble (So.) led off for the Gauchos today as she continues to regain her health after an injury in the fall. Passing the baton onto Hall she would maintain their position in a pack of the 4th-6th place teams, which also happened to be all Big West schools; the others Cal St. Fullerton and Long Beach St. McCuen would then take it for the third leg, sprinting ahead into fourth place. Katie Kramer (Jr.), Gaucho heptathlete would grab the baton for the anchor but was unable to match the closing speed of the other schools' anchor legs, taking sixth place. She would nonetheless finish just over a second out of fourth and help the squad to a 3:52.76, over a second faster than a UCSB team had previously run in 2006.
The Gauchos next will split squads for the conclusion of their Spring Break 2006. The majority of the team will compete at the Cal-Nevada Championships beginning on Friday, March 31st on the campus of Cal St.-Fresno. A two day event, prelims will be contested throughout Friday with most of the finals being held on Saturday, April 1st to see who will be crowned a 2006 California-Nevada Champion. The other few Gauchos not traveling to Fresno will be a select group of distance runners to compete at the Stanford Invitational distance carnival. This will be the first major opportunity for the distance runners to notch NCAA Regional qualifying marks with many of the best runners in the country in attendance.