The UCSB track and field team began postseason play in strong fashion on Friday and Saturday, taking first place at the Big West Multi-Event Championships at UC Irvine on both the men’s and women’s sides.
Three Gauchos represented the men’s team, collecting a total of 20 points for UCSB. Junior Derek Masterson placed first in the decathlon while senior Mikael Powers took second. Senior Josh Codding also competed for the Gauchos. For the women, junior Barbara Nwaba took the crown and earned UCSB 10 points going into next week’s Big West Championships.
“It was a very successful weekend,” Nwaba said. “The men should be in first going into conference [championships], and on the women’s side, we’re in second because Long Beach had a couple more athletes than we did. It was definitely a great start.”
Masterson won three events in route to his 7,355-point first-place finish, the first Big West Decathlon Championship of his career. He broke his own personal record in the long jump, leaping 7.23 meters. Masterson carried the momentum into the next event, the shot put, setting another personal best of 14.21 meters. His third victory came in the javelin throw when he threw 54.33 meters.
“[Derek’s] blowing up right now,” Nwaba said. “He was amped to get there and get first. He had a PR in the hurdles too, so he did really well.”
Finishing with a total of 6,966 points, Powers ended day one strong, tallying the quickest time of 48.96 in the 400-meter run. Then, on day two, Powers used two second-place finishes in the 110-meter hurdles and the 1,500-meter run to secure the second spot behind Masterson.
“[Mikael] had a rough first day, finishing in third, but got back to where he needed to be and got second place,” Nwaba said.
Codding took seventh place in the competition with 6,389 points, earning the Gauchos an extra two points. One highlight included the shot put, in which he finished second and recorded a personal best, throwing 12.53 meters.
“Every point counts and two points can determine the conference championships,” Nwaba said.
For the women, Nwaba was the sole competitor for the Gauchos. Nevertheless, she dominated the competition, taking first place in the heptathlon with a score of 5,709, approximately 550 points more than the second-place finisher. The total broke the previous mark of 5,642 from 2008.
Nwaba won five of the seven events to take her second heptathlon crown, starting off the championships with a win and personal best on the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.82. On a roll, she then tied her lifetime personal record on the high jump, jumping 1.83 meters.
“I’m excited to get that PR [in the hurdles],” Nwaba said. “On the high jump, I was so close to getting 1.86 meters. I barely missed it.” Next week, UCSB track and field will be back at UC Irvine to compete in the Big West Conference Championships.