UCSB track and field will make the short trek over to San Luis Obispo this Saturday for another edition of the traditional blue-green rivalry in a dual meet against longtime rival Cal Poly.
This highly anticipated event will be the last dual meet of the year for the Gauchos, as they look forward to Big West Conference Championship events the following two weeks. The fact that this last dual meet pits the team against the Mustangs lends even more significance and excitement to the day.
“Cal Poly dual is always a fun one because of our long rivalry with them of course,” Assistant Coach Peter Van Beurden said.
It is inevitable that the blue-green rivalry establishes a competitive culture that extends to all UCSB sports, helping enhance the intensity between both teams when facing each other.
Junior Tori Usgaard has consistently felt this pressure to succeed versus the Mustangs over her three years in competition for Santa Barbara in the heptathlon.
“We never want to let down all the other teams who are here … They tried so hard to beat Cal Poly that we don’t want to be the team that messes that up,” Usgaard said. “I think that overall we should be able to score a win for both the women and the men, so it shouldn’t be an issue, but hopefully we’ll come through.”
Fortunately for Usgaard, the UCSB women’s team hasn’t lost to Cal Poly in the rivalry meet since 2009 — years before she even started at the school.
Complementing the women is Santa Barbara’s men’s side in recent years, taking home the victory each year since 2010.
Still, Van Beurden has helped keep the Gauchos levelheaded with their consistent success as he expects a battle this weekend in anticipation of Cal Poly being determined to bring the win back to SLO after all these years of drought. The team knows what’s at stake though, so they can be expected to be ready to compete hard to defend their recent run of success.
“We have a good streak going over there. Just with the nature of our rivalry it seems to bring out the best of athletes on both sides,” Van Beurden said. “There’s some pretty talented athletes on both teams this year so it’ll be cool to see them go head to head in these dual meet style races.”
However, not all of UCSB’s athletes will be available to go head-to-head at full strength this Saturday, with the multi-event conference championships scheduled for next weekend in Long Beach. That part of the Gauchos’ squad, including the heptathlete Usgaard, will be taking it easy at Poly as they prepare for their big weekend.
“We’re going to be doing a lot more of like a really light meet,” Usgaard explained. “So for those athletes who are going to be sitting out of those main events that can take away from the overall team’s scoring. As a team we should [still] be good, like I feel like we can definitely beat Cal Poly, but they’d be blown away if we were all able to do the events that we should be able to do.”
Another interesting aspect of Saturday’s meet at Cal Poly has to do with the nuances of the team’s track facilities and how it sets up for the race-day conditions.
“It’s pretty windy on the backstretch over there,” Van Beurden said. That kind of causes the races to be more tactical for sure. Especially in the distance races.”
Both the Gaucho women and men will attempt to keep their respective streaks running as the women will attempt to take home their seventh victory in as many years, while the men hope to take home their sixth straight victory.
The competition will take place over the course of this Saturday, April 30, starting at 10 a.m. at Cal Poly’s Track and Field Complex with the hammer throw.