The women’s track and field team won the Big West Challenge Cup this past weekend, earning 236 points to easily overtake second-place Cal State Fullerton in Irvine. Meanwhile, the men came in second place at the event behind first-place Long Beach State.
Sophomore Tayler Williams was the star of the meet for the Gauchos, taking first place in the triple jump while breaking her own school record with a mark of 40’3.50″. Williams also placed second in the long jump with a personal best mark of 19’5” to cap off the record-setting day.
“I just feel like my hard work is finally paying off,” Williams said. “I’ve learned to be more mature about my jumps; I have grown a lot since last year.”
Gaucho Senior Katie Voigtlander won the steeplechase with a time of 10:32.60, obliterating her previous best of 10:47.68, and remains second all-time in the steeplechase at UCSB. The Gauchos also competed well in the sprints led by the freshman duo of Kelsey Bolden and Grace Esslinger. Bolden won the 100m dash with a scorching time of 12.07, good enough for fifth all-time at UCSB while Esslinger placed third in the 200m with a time of 25.00.
The strong performances on the women’s side have led to lofty expectations and a sense of camaraderie that has spread throughout the entire team.
“We all want to win the Big West; that is our goal as a team,” Williams said. “Even though we are all working toward our individual goals we are trying to get as many points as possible so we can win the conference.”
On the men’s side, senior Scott Smith won both the 1500m and 3000m runs with times of 3:45.06 and 8:33.03, respectively. The Gaucho men also won multiple throwing events with junior Alex Umstead taking first place in the hammer throw and junior Michael Guerra dominating the javelin field with a throw of 59.28 meters. No other javelin participant threw farther than 50 meters.
“Knowing that it was a meet against people I was going to see in conference, I wanted to make sure that I didn’t take it lightly,” Guerra said. “Although the field wasn’t that tough, I wanted to make sure I stayed focused.”
The men’s team doesn’t stack up as well as the women’s side on paper, but that hasn’t stopped them from embracing the team aspect of their sport.
“On paper it looks like we’ll take second in conference, but we want to shake things up even though we may be a few points behind Long Beach,” Guerra said.
The Gauchos are beginning to enter the final stretch of the season with Big West Championships less than a month away. There is still time for many of the athletes to improve on the marks they have posted thus far this year.
“I definitely feel at this part of the season everyone on the team is starting to hit the marks they have been training for,” Guerra said.
Decathletes and heptathletes for both the men’s and women’s teams have been competing since Wednesday at the Azusa Multis with the rest of the participants joining in today. Next weekend the Gauchos head to the UCSD invitational.