May 8, 2008

Bethany Nickless Named Big West Athlete of the Week, Decathlon and Heptathlon Championships This Weekend

May 8, 2008

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The Schedule
Meet No. 15
Saturday, May 10, 2008
UCSB competes at the Oxy Invitational
at Bill Henry Olympic Track | Occidental College, Los Angeles, Calif.

Meet No. 16
Friday, May 9 and Saturday, May 10, 2008
Big West Multi-Event Championships
at Matador Track | Cal State Northridge, Northridge, Calif.

Also Ahead
Friday, May 16 and Saturday, May 17, 2008
Big West Conference Championships
at Matador Track | Cal State Northridge, Northridge, Calif.

This Week In Track & Field
The Big West Championships officially begin this weekend, with the decathlon and heptathlon competitions taking place at Matador Track on the campus of Cal State Northridge. UCSB's entrants are expected to be Nick deBeaubien in the decathlon and Lauri Schakett in the heptathlon. In the decathlon, the winner and the runner-up from last season are both returning. James Nunno from Cal Poly was last year's winner, and Robert Robinson from Cal State Northridge was the runner-up. In the heptathlon, Schakett currently has the third-best mark in the Conference. Sarah Klein from Cal Poly has posted the best mark so far. The top returner from last season's championships is Cal Poly's Sharon Day, who was the runner-up. She hasn't competed in a heptathlon this season, but she is still expected to compete at the heptathlon championships. The decathlon events begin at 12:00 noon on Friday, with the heptathlon events following at 12:30 p.m. The competition continues on Saturday, with day two of the decathlon events beginning at 11:00 a.m. and day two of the heptathlon events beginning at 12:00 noon.

There's been a last-minute change for the rest of the squad, as they will not be competing at the Claremont Classic as was originally scheduled. Instead, the team will be heading to the Oxy Invitational, hosted by Occidental College. This meet is a late-season opportunity for athletes to qualify and/or improve their seeding times for Conference and NCAA competitions. Athletes can still qualify for Regionals by winning their event(s) or meeting the qualifying standard(s) at the Conference meet, but this weekend's meet will be the last opportunity for athletes to qualify for Conference. The Oxy Invitational will be run at Bill Henry Olympic Track at Occidental College, with the field events beginning at 10:00 a.m. and the track events beginning at 2:45 p.m. Entries will be posted on oxyathletics.com sometime on Thursday, May 8.

On The Horizon
The Big West Conference Championships will take place on Friday and Saturday, May 16-17, at Matador Track on the campus of Cal State Northridge. Friday's competition consists of trials for all the sprint, hurdle, and middle distance (800m and 1500m) events. Finals are held for half of the field events, for the steeplechase, and for the 10,000 meter race. Saturday consists of finals for the events that had trials, along with finals in the remaining field events, the relays, and the 5000m race. Ticket prices are $10 for adults ($15 for a two-day pass) and $5 for students, seniors, and youths ($8 for a two-day pass). For more information, call Northridge's ticket office at 818-677-2488.

Bethany Nickless Named Big West Athlete of the Week
The Gauchos had an athlete honored with this award for the second time this season, as Bethany Nickless was named the female track Athlete of the Week after running a 10:32.19 in the steeplechase at last weekend's Payton Jordan Invitational. Her time was a significant improvement over her previous time of 10:44.21, which she ran at the Big West Challenge Cup on April 12. This improves her chances of making it into the fastest heat at Regionals. Bethany ran a 10:31 in the steeplechase at the Oregon Relays a couple weeks ago, but that time was rendered unofficial since the meet crew forgot to set up one of the barriers before the race began.

Schak Attack
Lauri Schakett will be the Gauchos' entry in the heptathlon this weekend. She currently has a personal best of 4456, which she set last season. That is currently the sixth-best heptathlon mark in UCSB history, and she will be looking to move further up the list with a good performance this weekend. Her best score this season was a 4264, which she set at the Northridge Multis on March 21. That heptathlon was held at the same venue where the championships will be held. Schakett's strengths lie in the hurdles, where she has personal bests of 15.12 in the 100m hurdles and 62.75 in the 400m hurdles. She also has a good time in the 800m of 2:20.01, very fast for a heptathlete.

Dropping-in on deBeaubien
In the decathlon, the Gauchos will turn to freshman Nick deBeaubien to put forth his best effort to snag a few points. deBeaubien was a standout athlete in high school, competing for El Toro High in the CIF Southern Section. He's had to adjust to the higher hurdles, heavier shots, and faster competitors at the collegiate level, but he's coming along nicely and is looking for a sound performance in his first decathlon championship. Like Schakett, deBeaubien has competed in a couple of multi-event competitions this season. His best score was at the Cal Invite decathlon on April 18, where he posted a 5934.

On All Cylinders
With time winding down, Sheneice Vargas and Jason Newland were able to qualify for Conference, thanks to some good performances in the sprints at last weekend's dual meet against Cal Poly. Newland got his name on the entry sheet for the 100m and 200m races, with times of 10.75 and 21.79. Vargas was already qualified in the 400m, but she nudged her time down to 56.92, which is the ninth-fastest in UCSB history. Additionally, she posted a time of 25.42 in the 200m to qualify in that event. Those performances ensure that the Gauchos will have representatives in most of the events that will be run at Conference.