May 13, 2006
Although unable to match last year's Championship, their 2nd place team finish kept the Gauchos at the top of the Big West. Four years ago, last time the Conference Championships were held at Cal St. Northridge, the Gauchos were a dismal 7th. Things have changed in four year's time as a strong 2nd place was highlighted by three more Big West titles and a slew of great performances on the final day of competition. The Gauchos finished with 165.5 points to the Cal St. Northridge Matadors 207 points.
Kylie McCuen (Sr.) and Stephanie Rothstein (Jr.) both walked away as double event winners as McCuen repeated as 200m and 400m Champion and Rothstein added the 5,000m title to her resume after her 10k win on Friday night. With the Women sprinters and distance runners having dominating performances, they solidified their 2nd place over Long Beach St. who finished with 152 points.
Before the Track events got underway, the field events took over the Northridge Track & Field complex. In the Discus ring, Charlene Heaston (So.) picked up three points for the Gauchos to start the afternoon. Throwing just a foot off her best, Heaston finished 6th with a toss of 141-06. Simultaneously with the Discus, in the Triple Jump Ashley Coelho (Jr.) again out jumped her rank. Last year she entered the competition ranked 13th and leaped ahead to 7th, while this year she went in ranked 9th and was able to score a point for the Gauchos finishing 8th with a jump of 37-11.25, a foot better than her previous seasonal best.
In the Women's Pole Vault at 2pm, four Gauchos were entered and all four picked up points. Going into the Conference Championships with Heidi Nyberg (Jr.), Jessica Horn (Jr.), Melanie Sonby (So.) and Shannon Moy (Fr.) ranked 4th, 5th, 6th, and 9th the opportunity for some important major points presented themselves. Horn, Nyberg and Sonby would all clear 10-11.75 successfully to finish 4th-6th, while Moy would clear her best of 10-06 to finish in a tie for 7th. The Vault squad would pick up 13.5 points.
Finishing off the field events at 3:00pm, Heaston and Jamie Schwarzbach (So.) competed well in their third event of the Championships, the Shot Put. The Gauchos went in 6th and 9th respectively off of the '06 Big West performance list. First, Schwarzbach would unleash a good one on her second throw, putting it out at 41-11.50, just off her best and putting her in 5th after the second round. Heaston would answer back in round three with a mark of 43-05.75 moving her into 5th place, while Schwarzbach would be in 6th. Unable to improve her mark, Schwarzbach would end the day in 7th and with two points for the Gauchos after a solid Shot Put performance. Heaston on the 6th and final round would put herself into 4th place with toss of 43-08.50 moving ahead of Cal Poly's DeFresne.
On the Track beginning with the 4x100m Relay at 3pm as the Shot Put, the School Record holding squad of Kerry Gamble (So.), Elise Geiger (Sr.), McCuen (Sr.), Leticia Pulido (Sr.), got off to a slow start with Gamble leading off, but she picked it up the last 50m to hand off the baton to 2005 Big West Track Athlete of the Year, McCuen who ran a strong back stretch. Giving up the stick to Geiger, the Senior would run a strong turn two passing it off to Pulido for the anchor. She would come home in 46.64 for the squad, their second fastest time of the year and a 4th place finish.
In the 1500m, last year's 10,000m winner and '06 5,000m Conference leader, Megan Lewis (Jr.) entered ranked 3rd looking to get an All-Conference finish in a much shorter distance for herself. Also entered was last year's 3rd place finisher at 10,000m Hadas Moser dropping down in distances with her teammate along with Freshman Danielle Domenichelli. Setting off at a pedestrian 77 second first lap, the Big West's Conference leader and number two dropped it down to a blistering 69 second lap to break open the field. Lewis and Moser stayed on the front two however it proved to be too much as the two leading continued to press the pace. Lewis would maintain 3rd place crossing the line in a new personal best of 4:28.15 while Moser grabbed 4th place in 4:34.41. A little further back, Domenichelli ran a smart race finishing 8th in her first Big West Championships appearance.
Next up on the track was the 100m Hurdles, where Stellamarie Hall (Jr.) got into the finals for the first time in her career. Racing just off her best, she would cross the line in 8th place with a 15.05. Warming things up for her teammates with another point, the following event on the track would feature three Gauchos in the 400m final.
Getting out quick, Gamble, Geiger and McCuen put themselves in the vision of their opponents, relaxing a bit from 150m-250m. With Blake of Fullerton racing well next to McCuen, the defending Champ, would enter the homestretch and turn on the afterburners, never looking back as she came across the line in a new life time best of 54.11. Gamble, coming off of her torn ACL, made a great recovery and dipped under 56 seconds for the first time since high school, nabbing 4th in 55.81. Geiger had a great last 100m pulling up for 5th right behind Gamble in 56.44. For McCuen the win advances herself to the West Regional Championships, although her time was also under the qualifying mark of 54.61.
In the 400m Hurdles, Hall who has had a career year in the hurdles, returned after scoring in the 100m Hurdles, joined by teammate Diana Joyner (Jr.) who qualified for finals for the first time for the Gauchos. Getting out a bit slow, Hall would turn it on the last 120m to finish 5th in 62.86. She has stayed consistently under 63 seconds all year to finish off her junior season. Joyner came up big for the Gauchos as she would run a personal best 64.09 and pick up another point finishing 8th.
Back on the track, McCuen would step into the blocks for the 200m to go head to head with Deanna Goodwin of Northridge, the 100m winner. Geiger, qualifying into finals as well would look to pick up a few more points in her final afternoon of competition for the Gauchos. Last time McCuen and Goodwin went against each other, McCuen got the upper hand at the Cal-Nev Championships on April 1st. This afternoon would be no different as she would blast out of her blocks and hold off Goodwin with a new UCSB School Record of 23.81. Geiger would come in at 6th, picking up another 3 points for the Gauchos in 24.65.
UCSB would enter the 5,000m event in 3rd place in the team scoring. With the top three entrants all Gauchos, a good race would put them ahead of Long Beach St. for good going into the 4x400m Relay, the final event on the track. Lewis and Moser would double back from the 1500m, Seanna Martin (Sr.) and Stephanie Rothstein (Jr.) were doubling back from the 10,000m and Bethany Nickless (Jr.) was doubling back after her steeplechase victory yesterday afternoon. Meredith Kramon and Ludi Valdez of Long Beach St. also entered were a threat to the Gauchos in the race and on the team scoring battle.
With Kramon getting out to an early lead, the chase pack would maintain 85 second pace for the first few laps with all Gauchos tucked in it. Rothstein and company would catch Kramon passing her on the 8th lap. The Gauchos were running 1st-5th with Valdez running strong. Attempting to match last year's 1st-4th place sweep, UCSB would keep pressing with 2nd place on the line for the team. Rothstein would break away with three laps remaining and keep the lead running away with her second title of the Championships in 17:09.07. Nickless would finish 2nd in 17:13.97, a personal best by approximately thirteen seconds, while Lewis would grab third in 17:15.16. And, solidifying another Gaucho 1st-4th sweep, Martin came in 4th at 17:20.61. Moser running a tough race after her 1500m, finished 6th in 17:37.02 helping the Gauchos score 32 points in one event putting UCSB in 2nd for good.
The final event on the track, the Women's 4x400m Relay returned Gamble, Geiger and McCuen along with 400m hurdler Joyner. The squad would dip just under 3:48 finishing in 3:47.99 in 5th place just ahead of the Long Beach St. 49ers.
The Gauchos next look toward the NCAA Regional Championships held at BYU in Provo, UT in two weeks where the best in the West will compete against each other for the coveted NCAA National Championship spots.