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This Saturday, the UCSB track and field team will head up to San Luis Obispo to renew the Blue-Green rivalry with host Cal Poly. In one of its final regular season meets, the team will look to prepare for the Big West Championship.
Both the men’s and women’s teams have had a week off to recuperate after a very long and successful season on both sides.
“We haven’t competed in two weeks and since we have Cal Poly as our last competition for conference, a lot of us are feeling more motivation to do well,” sophomore heptathlete Tori Usgaard explained. “We always fight to best Cal Poly and I think we can.”
The Mustangs are a force to be reckoned with as their men’s squad will head into the weekend with momentum from their win over a medley of schools in the Bulldog Invitational last week.
They were led by juniors Cliff Lekas and A.J. Inouye, who capped off the meet with wins in the 400m and the pole vault, respectively. In addition, three different Mustangs placed second, third and fourth to dominate the javelin throw event.
Santa Barbara has had tremendous success this year on both ends of the sport, with track events leading the way. The team has undoubtedly been anchored by junior middle distance runner Shyan Vaziri, who has continuously broken both personal and school records all year in the 800m and 1500m events. He currently ranks first all-time in the Gaucho record books for his time of 3:42.44 in the 1500m.
In addition to some of the veterans, a few new Gauchos have made their presence known on the track. Freshman long distance runner Jackson Bright has notched in a couple of first place events as well as other strong efforts in the 10000m event. His best time as a Gaucho was earned at the Cal/Nevada Championships with a mark of 31:03.77 a few weeks ago.
Along with Vaziri and Bright, another Gaucho who has shown incredible strength on the track is sophomore distance runner Maxine Goyette.
Goyette has turned in multiple first-place efforts this year and consistently finishes towards the top in her distance events of the 1500m and the 300m steeplechase.
Goyette has powered the women’s team throughout the season with the help of another athlete who is responsible for a large chunk of the points that Santa Barbara has accrued this season. That athlete would be none other than Usgaard.
Usgaard is the resident heptathlon competitor for Santa Barbara and has taken the event by storm in her second year here. In her last meet, Usgaard received a score of 4968, which stands as the third-highest total all-time in Gaucho history.
“I felt that after that heptathlon, I still have so much more to improve, which is frustrating, but comforting at the same time,” Usgaard said. “I hope that by next week I can really have all of my events come together and finish the competition knowing that it was my best showing.”
Surely this sophomore will be ready for this weekend when the team heads to San Luis Obispo.The events are set to start this Saturday morning.
A version of this article appeared on page 6 of May 1st’s print edition of The Daily Nexus.
Photo by Mark Brocher of The Daily Nexus.