UCSB track and field will travel to Irvine to compete in the Big West Challenge Cup on Friday night. Both the men’s and women’s teams will get a good look at Big West competition in what will be a major benchmark and testing gauge for the last month of the season.
“This is our second biggest meet of the year, behind conference championships,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “It’s our first look at some of our major competition for the year. It’ll be a fun chance for our athletes to run under the stadium lights on a big stage.”
All the athletes are hoping to put up their best times and make a statement to the conference. Sophomore middle distance runner Shyan Vaziri recorded the best times of any Gaucho this season in the 800-meter [1:52.41] and 1500-meter [3:47.86] and looks to take that success into this weekend.
“This weekend’s meet against Long Beach and Irvine is going to be a true test of how we stack up with the rest of the conference,” Vaziri said. “My goal is to go out, win both events and get my team as many points as I can.”
The Gauchos took a big hit last weekend when senior decathlete Derek Masterson went down with a leg injury in the pole vault. He will not be able to compete in this weekend’s meet.
“Losing Derek is a tough blow for our team,” Dolan said. “It’s going to be up to [senior decathlete] Mikael Powers to fill the void and come up big for our team.”
The men’s side looks to be strong in the sprints, with junior Jordan Scott, senior Marquis Caldwell, junior Nate Harvey, junior Evan Walker and sophomore Michael Aiken all expected to make an impact. Considering UCSB’s best times this season, Walker is the favorite in the 100 [10.58], Harvey is the favorite in the 200 [22.01] and Scott is the favorite in the 400 [47.88].
On the women’s side, freshman Shannon Trumbull looks to continue her success from last weekend’s invitational at Cal State Los Angeles. Trumbull placed fifth in the 100 with a time of 14.63.
“Long Beach is our biggest competition on the women’s side, but I think we can win out this weekend,” Dolan said. “We’re going to have to have a great meet and get a good feel for the other teams out there so we know what we’re up against when conference championships come around.”
Santa Barbara leaves for Irvine Friday afternoon, with competition beginning late Friday evening.
A version of this article appeared on page 9 of April 11th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus