No one can accuse the UCSB track and field team members of being lazy.
The Gauchos have been on their toes for the past few weeks, participating in events across the state, proving that Santa Barbara is a force to be reckoned with.
UCSB’s squad has been steadily dividing and conquering the competition by sending out select groups to represent Santa Barbara in a number of different events. During finals week, a handful of Gauchos were elected to compete in the annual Santa Barbara Easter Relays. The attitude was more relaxed as it was a nonscoring meet, but many UCSB athletes put forth impressive performances. Notable highlights included senior Alanna Deely, who notched both a personal best and a Big West Championships qualifying mark in the high jump.
Other Big West qualifying marks came from junior Josh Horton and junior Kevin Howard. Horton found his qualifying mark with a finishing time of 4:14.08 in the 1500-meter race, while Howard qualified with a 142’01” throw in the discus.
After finals week, part of the team headed to Arizona to compete in the Baldy Castillo State Invitational and the other half took a shorter jaunt south to compete in the Cal State Northridge Invite. Neither invitational was a scoring event, so UCSB used the competitions to showcase its talents and tune-up for the upcoming Stanford Invitational.
Santa Barbara made its presence known at the Arizona Invite by turning in a first place finish. The relay team of seniors Jessica Lunt and Ali Pearson, sophomore Katie Appenrodt and freshman Jasmine Washington set a school record in the women’s distance medley by crossing the line in 11:44.73. Lunt took the 1200-meter leg, followed by Washington with the 400-meter leg, Pearson in the 800-meter slot and Appenrodt in the 1600-meter anchor position.
“[Washington] is doing really well in her 400 pace,” senior pole vaulter Deborah Samson said. “She’s steadily progressing.”
The men’s distance medley team also put forth a notable effort but fell short of first place and ended up in second behind Arizona State.
Junior Octavious Gillespie, coming off the injured list for his first performance of the season, led the A-list of performances in Northridge with a personal best of 208’10” in the javelin throw. Another highlight of the meet was junior Paul Anderson’s personal best of 173’07” in the hammer throw.
The following weekend UCSB split up again, with the throwers and high jumpers competing in the UC San Diego Invite and the runners competing in the Stanford Invitational.
At the San Diego Invite, Gillespie stole the spotlight for the second weekend in a row, throwing the javelin 214’11” for another personal best. His mark puts him at number three on the university’s all-time list for his event.
“Octavious is quickly improving, and he’s incredible in his event,” senior Ryan Kwast said. “He’s thrown two lifetime bests within the last two weeks.”
Competing in the prestigious Stanford Invitational, the Gauchos turned in a number of impressive performances, showing that they felt right at home on the Stanford track.
Junior Aaron Sharp finished the grueling 10,000-meter distance race with a time of 30:15.21, putting him second on the Big West conference list. Seasonal bests were notched by a number of men’s distance athletes, including those turned in by the sophomore trio of Dave Monico, J.T. Service, and Brandon von Guenthner.
The women’s sprinters also did well at Stanford; the 4-by-400-relay team scored a season-best time and was mere seconds away from breaking the school record in the event. Sophomore sprinter Amber Newsome also had personal bests in both the 100-meter and 200-meter events.
“Stanford sets the standard with ideal conditions, excellent competition, and first-class facilities,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said.
The Gauchos will be competing in the Big West Challenge Cup located in Fullerton this upcoming weekend. It is a critical event and both the men’s and the women’s teams have high hopes of taming the competition to take away a victory.
“Both [the men’s and women’s teams] have never won the Big West Challenge Cup simultaneously,” Samson said. “This is a prime time to do it. With everybody hitting their personal bests or at least seasonal best, we have a good chance of winning.”