UCSB’s track and field teams performed well in the Big West Championships this weekend, with the women scoring 126 points for second place, falling short behind champion Cal State Northridge. The men scored 116.5 to finish fourth with Long Beach State finishing in first.
“We’re really excited about placing second,” senior distance runner Breanne Strenkowski said. “We just wanted to put forth a good effort. Lots of people scored who weren’t supposed to score, and it was really exciting.”
Six individual conference titles were earned between juniors Ryan Martin and Justine Diaz in the 800m, senior Amanda Moreno in the 5k, Strenkowski in the 10k, junior Anthony Masci in the 3000m steeplechase and sophomore Mitchell Haag in the high jump.
In the men’s 800m, Martin ran a 1:45.34, finishing sixth hundredths of a second before UC Irvine’s Charles Jock, who was ranked number one in the conference entering the event. Junior Rusty Parker finished fourth at 1:50.82, and freshman Greg Dotson placed seventh overall with a 1:52.53.
“I’ve been racing against [Charles] for the last three years, and he’s a great competitor,” Martin said. “It was nice to finally get one on him. My goal is try to stay with him as long as I can, and [this time] I came out on top.”
Diaz also won a close race in the women’s 800m, running a 2:10.30, .66 seconds faster than Irvine’s Maggie Newton-Neal. Sophomore Cassie Brooker ran a 2:12.54 for fifth place, with junior Sarah Vitug finishing behind her at 2:12.57.
For the women’s 5k, Moreno set the pace with a first-place time of 16:44.21 as Strenkowski finished right after her with a 16:48.87. Senior Andrea Jacobs placed seventh with a time of 17:07.09. Strenkowski’s 34:57.59 in the 10000m was 12 seconds ahead of Cal State Northridge’s Lilyanna Morejon, and freshman Danielle Moreno finished at 35:55.84 for sixth place.
“[Going into the weekend], the top three girls in conference were all within 10 seconds of each other,” Strenkowski said. “It usually goes out a lot slower, but [Lilyanna] took it out pretty fast. We had even splits, but the last four laps I really went for it and she didn’t.”
Masci won the 3000m steeplechase with a time of 9:05.10, with senior Julian DeRubira right behind him at 9:08.70. For the men’s high jump, Haag cleared a height of 6’9”, and junior Mike Larocca cleared 6’8.5” for third place. Sophomore Max Villaba tied for fourth at 6’8”.
“[Overall] I was pleased; we did really well in certain events where we weren’t supposed to do well, like the steeplechase and high jump,” Martin said. “We had a lot of freshman sprinters score, which was awesome, and [the team] looks good for the next few years as they get stronger. I really think we can go for the win next year, in both men’s and women’s.”
UCSB now has a week off to prepare for the first round of the NCAA Championships in Oregon from May 26 to 28.