March 5, 2008

Ryan Martin Named Athlete of the Week, UCSB Travels to Soka University

March 5, 2008

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The Schedule
Meet No. 3
Saturday, March 8, 2008 at 12:00 noon
UCSB competes at the Soka University Peace Invitational
at Soka University, Aliso Viejo, Calif.

Meet No. 4
Saturday, March 15, 2008
UCSB competes against UC Davis in a dual meet
at Pauley Track, UCSB, Santa Barbara, Calif.

This Week In Track & Field
The Gauchos will return to the southland this weekend to compete at the Soka University Peace Invitational in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Soka University recently completed the construction of a facility devoted strictly to track and field. It is designed to be friendly to spectators, with all field events taking place in the infield. The meet will begin at noon with the men's hammer throw, with the women's long jump following at 1:00 p.m. The first race will be the 3000m, which begins at 2:00 p.m. Field events will continue to be run throughout the duration of the meet. The first official 5000m of the year will be run at approximately 5:00 p.m. upon the conclusion of the 4x400m relay.

On the Horizon
Coming up is a dual meet between the Gauchos and the Aggies of UC Davis on March 15. It will be the first of two dual meets this season for the Gauchos, the other being against Cal Poly on May 3. The Davis dual will also be the final home meet of the season, so it's your last chance to catch the track athletes in action on their home turf. UC Davis was recently promoted to Division I and is now a full-time member of the Big West Conference, so this meet will be one of their first forays into the top level of competition. Given the natural rivarly between the two athletic programs, the meet should make for a spirited contest.

Poll Position
The results of the Big West preseason poll were released on Thursday, Febrary 28. The Gaucho women were picked to finish third in the Conference, and the men were fourth in the voting. The top four in each poll consisted of the same four teams: UCSB, Cal State Northridge, Long Beach State, and Cal Poly. Northridge is favored to win both Conference Championships, which is not surprising considering that they have won back-to-back titles on the women's side and two out of three on the men's side. The women's voting saw Northridge claim 63 out of a possible 64 points. Long Beach State followed the Matadors with 46 points, with the Gauchos (39) and Cal Poly (36) rounding out the top half of the poll. UC Riverside picked up the lone remaining first place vote on the way to 35 points for fifth place, with conference newcomer UC Davis picking up 32 points for the sixth position. Cal State Fullerton (27) and UC Irvine (10) completed the women's poll. Voting for the men's teams had Cal Poly (49) following Cal State Northridge (60) and Long Beach State (54), respectively, for third place. The Gauchos checked in at fourth place with 37 points, while the Aggies of UC Davis were fifth with 35. Sixth place belonged to Cal State Fullerton with 22 points, while UC Riverside (17) and UC Irvine (14) rounded out the voting.

Ryan Martin Named Big West Athlete of the Week
After running an impressive 800m race at the All-Cal Challenge this past Saturday, Ryan Martin was named the Big West Track Athlete of the Week. This was the first round of weekly honors awarded by the Big West this season. Martin, a true freshman, had a time of 1:52.41 in a very competitive race. He took an early lead and never lost it, but he had to hold off several strong attacks from Ben Johnson of UC Davis in order to maintain the lead and cross the line in first place. Martin's time also easily meets the conference mark of 1:55.00, so he is already assured a spot in the 800m race at the Conference Championships. The other recipients of the Athlete of the Week awards were Ugo Eke of UC Davis in women's track, Jonathan Golden of Cal State Fullerton in men's field, and Jackie Lewis of UC Riverside in women's field.

Gauchos Pick Up Five Athletes Early in the Spring Signing Period
Five high school athletes have recently signed with the Gaucho track program and will make their debuts next season. These athletes are Ashley Beechan in the middle distances, Maddy Franklin in the shot put, Callie Mulgannon in the 800m, Mikael Powers in the 110m hurdles and 400m hurdles, and Alyssa Rife in the heptathlon. More information will be released on www.UCSBgauchos.com tomorrow evening.

Bethany Nickless named an Academic All-American
Senior steeplechaser Bethany Nickless was named to the 2007 NCAA Division I USA Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USATFCCCA) Women's Cross Country All-Academic Team, it was announced Monday, February 25. Recently graduated Gaucho standout Megan Lewis was also named to the team following a successful 2007 Cross Country campaign. Nickless and Lewis were both named to the NCAA All-Regional team after leading the Gauchos to a fifth-place performance at the West Regionals and a return to the NCAA Championships as an at-large participant. In addition, Nickless was the Big West Athlete of the Year, and Lewis was the Big West Conference Champion. The award honors those student-athletes who have succeeded both academically and athletically. To be eligible for the award a student-athlete must carry a minimum 3.25 cumulative grade point average and have completed a minimum 24 semester hours through the 2007 fall term. Additionally, the student-athlete must finish in the top 15 runners or top ten percent of finishers at their respective NCAA regional meet, or receive All-American honors. For more information on this story, visit the women's cross country page on www.UCSBgauchos.com.

Challenging the System
The only thing missing from last Saturday's meet was the Board of Regents, as the All-Cal Challenge brought the institutions of the UC System to Irvine for an early season get-together. Fueled by several positive results, the Gauchos came away with a second-place showing from the men and a fourth-place showing from the women. These results were, admittedly, a little disappointing for both teams, but the season is still young and the team is committed to making the necessary improvements. A number of athletes deserve recognition for winning their respective events. They are: Jeff Stewart in the shot put and hammer throw, Jane Doolittle in the high jump, Ryan Martin in the 800m, and Michael Powers in the steeplechase.

Rounding `Em Up
The first meet of the season went well for the Gauchos, with both the men's and women's squads winning the team competitions in the Gaucho Round-Up. The men faced teams from Claremont Mudd-Scrips and Westmont, and the women faced the same teams and an additional team from Pepperdine.The Gauchos combined to win 26 of the 36 events that were contested, even though some key members of the team did not compete. It was a good warm-up event for all the athletes who participated, and should help everyone make the transition from a training atmosphere to a competitive atmosphere.