The USA Track and Field Outdoor Championships begin today at Sacramento State’s Hornet Stadium with three UCSB alumni set to make their mark on the national scale. Barbara Nwaba and Ryan Martin, graduates of UCSB’s class of 2012, will compete in the women’s heptathlon and the men’s 800m, respectively. Derek Masterson, who graduated just last year, will compete in the men’s decathlon.
Throughout their time in Santa Barbara, the three former Gauchos accumulated a total of 11 Big West individual championships. Masterson and Martin also came away with UCSB’s first ever men’s Big West team championship in 2012.
Nwaba brings a very strong résumé with her to Sacramento having won four All-American Awards during her time as a Gaucho. She also set the Big West’s all-time record in the heptathlon with a score of 5,986. Along with her two individual Big West titles in the heptathlon, her strongest event, she won four more Big West titles in the high jump, 100m hurdles, 400m hurdles and the 4x400m relays.
After graduating, she placed fifth in the 2012 Olympic Trials with a heptathlon score of 5,986 before finishing fourth in the Thorpe Cup, the annual decathlon and heptathlon meet held every year between the USA and Germany.
Nwaba is currently 19th on the hepatathlon world list with a mark of 6,043 that she earned in the Mt. Sac Relays this past spring. She will be coached by former UCSB track and field coach Josh Priester as she represents the Santa Barbara Track Club.
Martin, who graduated as the 9th-fastest 800m runner in NCAA history, ended his senior year with a fourth-place finish in the NCAA Championships. After continuing his success in the 2012 Olympic Trials, he earned a spot in the final with a chance to qualify for the 2012 Olympics. However, his time of 1:44.90 saw him finish less than three-tenths of a second short of earning a spot to represent the United States in London.
Throughout his career, Martin has reached a ranking as high as 35th in the world. He has also broken the 1:47 mark 16 times throughout his career, with a career-best time of 1:44.77. He enters the Championships represented by Asics and coached by UCSB’s current track and field Head Coach Pete Dolan.
The recently graduated Masterson, who was an essential part of the UCSB men’s 2012 Big West title run, will make his debut in the USA Track and Field Championships in the men’s decathlon.
Masterson holds the Gaucho decathlon record under the new scoring tables with a score of 7,631 and qualified for the NCAA Championships in 2012 after winning the Big West title. He won another two Big West titles last year as the repeat champion in the decathlon and with a first-place finish in the javelin. In 2013, he also served as a volunteer assistant coach for Gaucho multi-eventers.
Although he enters the competition without representation, he is coached by UCSB Associate Head Coach Cody Fleming.
Nwaba will begin her two-day competition at 12:15 p.m. on Friday. Martin and Masterson’s first events will be on Thursday, with Martin taking the track at 4:40 p.m. for the first round of 800m races and Masterson beginning the men’s decathlon at 10:30 a.m.
A version of this article appeared in June 24, 2014’s print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Photo courtesy of Derek Masterson.