Martin Wins 800m, Nwaba Qualifies for Regionals, Relays Perform Well On Final Day of Big West Championships

May 16, 2009

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Meet Day Results

IRVINE, Calif. -- Ryan Martin captured the second Big West title for the Gauchos at the Big West Conference Track & Field Championships, which concluded this evening at UC Irvine's Anteater Stadium.

Martin's victory came in the 800m run, where he entered with the second-best time to UC Irvine's Charles Jock. As expected, the race came down to a duel between Martin and Jock in the final 200 meters. Martin waited until the final stretch to make his move, and he was able to lean over the line in first place with a time of 1:49.85, which won by two hundredths of a second.

Martin also anchored the 4x400m relay, which was the final event of the meet. The men's squad of Max Bellissimo, Jason Newland, Alvin Go, and Martin ran the second-fastest relay in UCSB history with a time of 3:10.56. The race for the win was very close, with UC Irvine crossing the line in first at 3:10.22, UC Davis placing second at 3:10.28, the Gauchos third, and UC Riverside fourth at 3:10.62.

The women's relay squad of Barbara Nwaba, Dominique Augusts, Lauren Kodama and Sheneice Vargas set the fourth-fastest time in UCSB history by running 3:46.82, which was also good for third place. All four runners on the squad are sophomores who have promising careers ahead of them.

"If anybody's a fan out there, I think the last relay anchors track & field in their mind," remarked Gaucho head coach Pete Dolan. "We performed to our highest possible capabilities in those races. It was a great way to end this part of the season."

In the field events, Barbara Nwaba opened the day strongly by clearing the Regional bar in the high jump, which was good for an All-Conference second-place finish. Nwaba's clearance of 5-8.75 (1.75m), which came on her final attempt at that height, earns her a trip to Regionals in two weeks. Nwaba also scored in the 100m hurdles (6th, 14.47) and 400m hurdles (8th, 67.51) in today's competition.

Jason Newland began his day with a 10.82 in the 100m dash. Despite getting out of the blocks slowly, he was still able to move into fifth place. He bounced back later in the meet in the 200m dash, where he came within a thousandth of a second of winning the Conference title. He and Deshawn Winters of Northridge crossed the line in a dead heat, and after a half-minute delay the timing system displayed Winters as the winner at 21.449, and Newland as the runner-up at 21.450.

Four Gauchos scored in the women's hammer throw, lead by Irene Kujore's second place throw of 170-7 (51.99m). This was Kujore's second All-Conference performance of the meet, as she also took second in the discus yesterday afternoon. The other UCSB scorers in the hammer were Ingrid Sutherland, who took fifth at 161-0 (49.07m), Chichi Amadi, who took sixth at 156-9 (47.77m) and Alex Francis, who took eighth at 147-8 (45.02m).

Scott Smith picked up a pair of All-Conference performances in the 1500m and 5000m runs. Smith took third in a 1500m field loaded with Regional qualifiers, with a time of 3:48.64. He would later run 14:26.97 in the 5000m to take second. He was out-leaned at the line by Chad Hall of UC Riverside, who ran 14:26.59. Smith and Hall broke away from the pack with less than two laps to go, exchanging the lead several times before Hall was able to move in front on the home stretch.

Scott Finley also earned All-Conference honors by placing third in the pole vault. Five competitors, including Finley, cleared 16-6.75 (5.05m). Finley was awarded third place based on misses at lower heights.

Other high scorers included Scott Anderson, who was fourth in the discus at 162-5 (49.50m), Max Bellissimo, who was fifth in the 400m at 48.64, and Sarah Vitug, who was sixth in the 800m at 2:14.48.

The Gaucho men finished fifth in the team competition with 89 points. Cal State Northridge won the title with 176.50 points. The Gaucho women finished seventh with 69 points. Cal State Northridge won their fourth consecutive women's team title with 198 points.

Dolan also commented on the overall team performances.

"I know somebody might look at the scores and say, `gosh, that's all they had?' But for the personnel we had as a team, we came ready to go. We put as much together as we could on this day, and I'm really happy about the atmosphere the team created. Things really caught fire."

The next meet will be the NCAA West Regionals, which will be held on May 29 and May 30 in Eugene, Ore.

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