Senior decathlete Derek Masterson of UCSB’s track and field team won the men’s Big West Multi-Event Championship for the second year in a row this past weekend at Cal State Northridge.
Three Gauchos finished in the top six to give Santa Barbara a very solid start to the track and field championship season.
“Derek has been a great team leader in addition to being the most talented multi-event athlete we have,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “He was a bit of a question mark coming back from injury, but he proved himself yet again.”
Masterson had been held out of competition even through last weekend’s dual meet against Cal Poly in preparation for championship weekend. He came back on Friday to pick up where he left off before the injury, when he was dominating competition week in and week out.
“Keeping Derek healthy and bringing home a championship were our top priorities,” Dolan said. “He’s a national-caliber athlete even through the injury, and it was good to see him win another title.”
In a narrow margin, Masterson won the 10-event competition by a score of 7376-7296, edging out Long Beach State’s Garrett Demirjian.
Masterson picked up victories in the long jump (6.89 meters) and shot put (14.78 meters), while tying for first place in the pole vault (4.60 meters). He also placed second in the discus, throwing 42.68 meters.
“Assistant Coach Cody Fleming deserves a lot of credit for this win as well,” Dolan said. “He came up with a great strategy plan to help Derek place first while also preserving his health. It probably wouldn’t have been that close if Derek was healthy, but given the circumstances, we needed to be smart about things.”
This weekend’s results marked the first time since 2004-2005 that a Big West athlete has won the decathlon championship in consecutive years. Like Idaho’s Jereme Richardson, who was the last to achieve the feat, Masterson will now wait to hear if he will be competing in the track and field national championships.
In addition to Masterson’s first place finish, senior Mikael Powers placed third with a score of 7100, and junior Billy Britt came in sixth with a final tally of 6523.
UCSB as a team has 19 team points heading into next week’s individual event championships.
On the women’s side for Santa Barbara, freshman Tori Usgaard placed fourth in her first Big West heptathlon championships with a score of 4,828.
Finishing with 5,060 points, University of Hawaii junior Samantha Balentine came away with the title in the seven-event competition.
“Tori was very impressive out there, especially considering that she’s a freshman,” Dolan said. “We’re excited for the future of our team with her leading the way, and we’re hoping she might come away with a Big West championship next season.”
Santa Barbara will resume competition next weekend when the Big West track and field championship continues in Northridge with the individual events. The first event begins in the afternoon on May 10.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of May 6th’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of the Daily Nexus.