The 2003 Big West Track & Field Championships start Wednesday for the UCSB men’s and women’s track and field teams. Athletes who have hit their qualifying marks will take part in the championships in their events. Gauchos who have not hit their marks still have one more chance to qualify.

Santa Barbara will travel to Southern California this Saturday to compete in the 2003 Oxy Invitational at Occidental. The meet begins at 11:00 a.m.

Some Gauchos enter the invitational with close qualifying marks. Freshman Seanna Martin has been timed at 2:18 in the 800-meter dash, and the qualifying mark is 2:17. Junior Rebecca Zamolo has a time of 11.47 in the steeplechase; she needs to hit 11.45. Freshman Tashaurie Rogers has run the 400-meter dash in 57.87, and she needs 57.50.

“I think they are ready,” UCSB Assistant Coach Jeff Jacobs said. “This is the best time to qualify; everybody is in the peaking phase. We are lightening the training load. They should be ready right now; that is how we design the program.”

Other schools see it as a chance to qualify for the national meets.

“Most teams view it as the last opportunity to qualify for the national championships,” said Occidental College men’s and women’s Head Coach Troy Engle, whose school is hosting the event.

The meet will attract a wide assortment of schools, including Division 1, 2, 3, National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics and some junior colleges. Notable schools sending athletes include USC, UCLA and Arizona State.

“There will be many Southern California schools competing, including UCSB, Cal State Northridge and UC Irvine,” Engle said.

The meet will also host unattached athletes (not competing for a school), including three-time world shot put champion John Godina. He won the 1996 silver and was the 2000 bronze medalist at the Olympics.

“It would be cool to compete with a world champion,” freshman Eugene Bradley said.

Gauchos who have already hit their marks are not putting too much emphasis on the Occidental meet.

“It’s the last tune-up before the Big West,” said Santa Barbara men’s and women’s Head Coach Pete Dolan. “Half the team will compete, the other half will rest.