It was a weekend of mixed emotions for the UCSB track and field teams as they competed in the Big West Conference Championships at UC Irvine.
The men pulled out a Big West Championship for the first time in school history. They won with 179 points while Long Beach State took second with 150 points.
“One year ago we made it a goal to win a championship,” senior Ryan Martin said. “Every day we worked towards our goal because we knew we had to be 100 percent and come together to win.”
For the women, there was heartbreak. The team totaled 169.5 points and lost to first-place UC Davis by half a point.
“It hurt,” junior Barbara Nwaba said. “We came so close — as close as you can get. At the end of the day, that’s the score, but we all know we put out.”
In the running events for the men, senior Anthony Masci defended his title in the 3,000-meter steeplechase, winning the event with a time of 9:02.23.
Then, in the event everyone had their eyes on, the 800-meter run, Martin took second behind senior Charles Jock of UC Irvine. Ryan ran the event in 1:44.77, two hundredths of a second slower than Jock.
“I had the same goal [as last year] to follow Charles because he likes to start quick, and then I [tried] to give everything at the end,” Martin said. “This year he was able to hold me off.”
Sophomores Jordan Scott and Karlon Johnson finished second and third in the 400-meter run with times of 48.14 and 48.563, respectively. Johnson’s time is a new lifetime best.
As for the field events, the Gauchos swept the high jump with junior Mitchell Haag winning the event and capturing his second consecutive crown after jumping 2.17 meters.
“The steeple and high jump were huge events,” Martin said. “Those two events are early in the meet, so they were huge in getting momentum.”
For the women, Nwaba won the 100-meter hurdles with a time of 13.59, a new personal best which beats her own school record. She also won the high jump after leaping 1.77 meters and took second in the javelin throw, where she threw 43.95 meters for a new lifetime best.
“[Nwaba] put a lot of the team on her back,” Martin said. “She put her heart and soul into the event, and she did so well.”
Junior Irene Kujore dominated the shot put in a first place victory, throwing 15.04 meters. Then, she earned first place in the hammer throw, throwing 56.64 meters. Finally, Kujore threw 49.98 meters in the discus throw, taking second place.
In the running events, senior Justine Diaz defended her Big West crown in the 800-meter run, crossing the finish line in 2:06.65.
“[Diaz] was slated to win that race,” Martin said.“There was a target on her back, and she pretty much took the lead from the beginning. It was a great race for her.”
Lastly, the 4×400 meter relay team composed of junior Jenn Carey, Diaz, junior Amanda Rodriguez and Nwaba earned first place with a time of 3:40.89.
Next up for the UCSB track and field will be the first round of the NCAA Championships in Austin, Texas from May 24 to 26.