Photo Credit: Lloyd Sicard
Santa Barbara, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Track and Field would conclude the Big West Conference Track and Field Championships this past weekend at the home Pauley Track and Field Facility, accumulating a total of 35 student-athletes (15 women, 20 men) that would end up in scoring position at the conference meet that would include four Big West Conference Individual champions throughout the course of these past two championship weekends. The women would fight tooth and nail for a Big West Conference Team Title at home all the way to the final event, but would end up just missing out with Cal State Fullerton beating them 129.5 to 123, making it the ninth time in the past 13 years that the Gaucho women have finished second at the championships. The men would come into this meet with an abbreviated squad but would still exceed expectations to finish fifth overall with 92.5 points.
1. Cal State Fullerton 129.5
2. UC Santa Barbara 123
3. Cal Poly 118
4. UC Davis 108.5
5. Cal State Northridge 101
6. Long Beach State 94
7. UC Irvine 64
8. UC Riverside 41
9. Hawaii 37
1. Long Beach State 169.5
2. Cal State Fullerton 151
3. UC Davis 117.5
4. Cal Poly 97.5
5. UC Santa Barbara 92.5
6. Cal State Northridge 85
7. UC Riverside 64
8. UC Irvine 40
"It was a pleasure to host the conference meet for the first time since 1983," remarked Interim Head Cross Country Coach Darius Terry. "They exceeded expectations/projections and gave it everything they had to come away with their placements on meet day."
Day Two Recap
Bender Wins Third Consecutive 400m Hurdle Title, Breaks School and Meet Record
As if one meet record weren't enough, senior Hope Bender decided that one more conference title on her list of accolades would need some extra flare to it by finishing first in the 400m hurdles with a time of 56.64 seconds, breaking her own school record by almost 1.5 seconds and beating the Big West Conference meet record set by LeBren Martin of Cal Poly in 57.69 back in 2003. Fending off challenger De'Andreah Young of Cal State Northridge, who'd set a personal best clocking of 57.76 in her own right, the two hurdles would pull up even on nearly every single hurdle leading to the homestraight, with Bender finally pulling away in the final strides after the last hurdle.
To top it all off, Bender's school record came after already competing earlier in the 100m hurdles where she finished second in 13.48 (-0.1 m/s), her highest placing at the conference meet in the short hurdles, behind Cal State Northridge's Sydney Mosley who set her own school record in 13.19. With three conference titles (heptathlon, long jump, 400m hurdles) and one second place finish, Hope would also be rewarded with Big West Women's Athlete of the Meet Honors for the second year in a row after winning it in 2018.
Pair of Seconds and Thirds for Rosvall and Camarena
Redshirt sophomore Astrid Rosvall and junior Katie Camarena would give everything they had for the team scores at the conference meet, splitting their efforts between the 1500m, 800m, and 5000m for the second day of competition. Both would key off of 1500m/800m race favorite Samantha Huerta of Cal State Fullerton throughout the course of the 1500m, staying just off her shoulder for the first three laps. Rosvall would attempt to run away from Huerta with 400m to go, but she would be surpassed right in the final meters, taking second 4:30.16 to 4:31.16. Camarena would fall behind with 600m to go but would rally back to take third in 4:31.93.
In the 800m, Rosvall would apply the same strategy she applied in the 800m by going right with Huerta, covering the first 400m in a blistering 62.78 seconds. She would unfortunately be overpowered on the day with Huerta taking the win in 2:04.81 and Cal State Northridge's Lena Kandissounon coming through for second in 2:05.95, but Rosvall would fend off a late charge from Fullerton's Sandra Flores for a podium spot, 2:09.12 to 2:09.50.
For the 5000m, it would primarily be Camarena versus Cal Poly with Miranda Daschian and Peyton Bilo returning from a 1-4 finish in the 10000m and Katie Izzo coming in fresh for just the 5000m as her main antagonists. Stretching out the competition from the start, the front pack of Cal Poly runners along with Fullerton's Trinity Ruelas would slowly drop off trailing runners as the laps continued on, Camarena observantly waiting and covering every move. At the bell, Daschian would try to seal and push from the front with Izzo, Bilo, Ruelas, and Camarena trailing behind. With 200 left, Daschian would finally break away and drive to the line for victory, but Camarena would swing wide to pass Izzo and Bilo on the homestretch to take second in 17:11.46, finishing another great conference triple including the steeplechase win from Friday.
Sophomore Alex Barr finished on the podium in the men's 1500m by placing third overall in a time of 3:52.96, the second fastest time of his career. Even with a 56.87 last lap, Barr would unfortunately be outclassed on the day by Cal Poly's Alex Merder, winning in 3:52.08 after making a huge surge with 500m to go, and UC Riverside's Heinrich Van Niekerk, who'd use his 1:50 800m speed to outlean Barr at the line in 3:52.54. True freshman Jagdeep Singh Chahal would finish in sixth with a two second personal best time of 3:54.64 while redshirt sophomore Isaiah Lozano would take eighth in 3:56.32.
Coming back from the pole vault and triple jump on Friday, Senior Cassidy Peng would complete her final trifecta of events fittingly in the women's triple jump with a first round mark of 12.19m (40' 0"), the second farthest jump in her career at UCSB.
True freshman Graham Michiels would make the podium in the men's high jump by clearing a new personal best jump of 2.05m (6' 8.75"), good enough for third place. Graham would find himself sharing the points, and the third place plaque, with Cal State Fullerton's Marcel Sylvester as both would clear the same best height in the same number of attempts.
Junior Tori Palma would garner fifth place in the women's shot put by putting up a throw of 13.52m (44' 4.25") in her second attempt of the competition. This would come after already scoring seventh in the discus on Friday.
Senior Callan Cochran would end up placing sixth in the men's 100m final in a time of 10.74 (-0.4 m/s), the second fastest time of his career after running 10.62 (+0.9 m/s) in the prelims on Friday. After missing out on almost the entire season due to a hamstring injury back in February, Cochran was able to put it altogether in his final season to score at the Big West Conference Meet for the first time in an individual event.
Senior Kordell Hampton would capture second place in the discus with a first round throw of 53.80m (176' 6"), returning to the podium after getting fourth in 2018. Despite not improving further in his subsequent throws, this would be his fourth straight year where he'd score in the discus at the conference meet. Sophomore George Harris would sneak into the final round of throwing with a 49.78m (163' 4") throw in the first round and would end up finishing fifth thanks to a personal best mark of 50.72m (166' 5") appropriately made in the fifth round. Foreshadowing his success with his out of competition throws, Harris would finally get it right on meet day to surpass his 2018 best by just 0.03m.
True freshman Glenn Mbamo would score at his first conference championships with a seventh place finish in the men's triple jump, leaping all the way out to 14.34m (47' 0.75") (+0.0 m/s) in his fifth attempt down the runway. That mark would serve as his best collegiate mark in the event all year with a legal wind.
Lastly, Redshirt freshman Brian Schulz would return for day two in the men's 5000m after taking fourth in the 10000m just 24 hours earlier on the first day of competition. Hanging onto the front pack from the start, Schulz would make a gutsy move a long way out from the finish and press from the front with over 1000m left in the race. By the time he reached the bell lap with 400m left, only UC Davis' Jordy Ceja would remain to challenge. Schulz would hold him off for as long as he could, but would ultimately be passed on the final straight to settle for second place in 14:39.48, his second best time at the 12.5 lap race.
The conclusion of the 2019 Big West Conference Championships means some well deserved downtime for the majority of the Gauchos for the next few weeks until they begin preparing in the summer for the 2020 season. A few Gauchos will continue on to the NCAA West Regional Meet in Sacramento in two weeks time, should they be in good standing with times/marks that meet the regional qualifying standard (being within the top-48 of their respective event(s) in the West Region). Final declarations for the Regional Meet will be released in the upcoming weeks.