With the 2003 Big West Track and Field Championships concluding this past Saturday at Northridge both the men’s and women’s teams posted subpar showings while key individual performances sparked some fire.

The men took sixth with a score of 77, and the women placed seventh with a score of 63.

The Gauchos brought home two individual championships courtesy of their two captains, seniors Katie Appenrodt and Deborah Samson. Defending 5,000-meter champion Appenrodt snagged her second-straight title in the event and Samson, the runner up in the pole vault for the past two years, finally broke through to claim her first title.

For the men, Senior Bryon Lamorandier came from behind to capture the 1,500-meter title.

“I was in a state of disbelief, I was so excited,” Lamorandier said. “I was looking around and saw the fans and my teammates. They were so happy for me.”

Lamorandier, who has fought injuries for the past two years, was the first Gaucho to win the event in 10 years.

“A legend was created,” men’s and women’s Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “That race will be talked about for years by all the teams that witnessed it.”

Lamorandier won the 1,500 with a time of 3:52.12, serving as a sparkplug for the squad.

“There was some kind of magic going on after he unexpectedly won the race,” senior captain J.T. Service said. “He got the team going. It had a snowball effect.”

Santa Barbara men’s distance runners also posted high marks. Freshman Scott McConville finished fifth in the 1,500 ( 3:53.42) and senior Aaron Sharp placed fourth in the 10,000 meters ( 31:23.96).

In the 3,000-meter steeplechase, Service placed fifth (9:08.78) and sophomore Scott Brandos took eighth (9:25.04).

In the 800 meters freshman Tetlo Emmen placed third (1:52.28) and sophomore Ryan McGinnis took fifth (1:53.48). With such young talent at the 800, the Gauchos have a bright future in one of track and field’s most grueling events.

Northridge closely edged out Santa Barbara’s 4 x 400 squad, who missed out on first place by the slim margin of .25 of a second. The Gauchos finished with a time of 3:12. 82. The 4 x 100 relay squad placed fifth with a time 41.54 and Junior Nohel Corral took fourth in the 400 meters, 47.89.

Freshman Kent Centers took second in the high jump with an impressive leap of 6’11”. Junior Mark Martello finished sixth in the pole vault (16′ 0.25″). Freshmen Ryan Donnelly placed seventh in the long jump ( 22’10”). Senior Cheyne Murray took seventh in the discuss with a hurl of 159’08”.

“I’m really happy with the team’s performance,” Service said. “I was proud to be their captain. It’s a pretty good way to go out.”

The women were dominant in the distance events. Appenrodt won the 5,000 with a time of 17:09.01 and sophomore Cosette Smith took second (17:13.16).

In the 1,500 Smith placed second, 4:34.81, and Appenrodt finished third, 4:35.78, and freshman Lauren Christman took seventh, 4:42.05.

“We can attribute a lot of the success of the track program to what Katie has brought,” Dolan said. “She will have her place in Gaucho track and cross country history.”

Senior Liz Mallon capped off her Gaucho career by taking third in the 10,000 meters (38:11.75). She also finished fourth in the 3,000 meter steeplechase (11:03.24).

Samson won the pole vault at 13’02.25″ and put her mark in the Gaucho history books by stamping her name above her own school record in the event.

“She’s been a two sport athlete, it took a lot of sacrifice,” Dolan said. “She was finally rewarded with a conference championship. I was really happy for her.”

Freshman Amy Haapanen took seventh in the shot put (44′ 10.75″) and senior Annita Reuben placed eighth in the heptathlon with a personal best 4,459 points.

The 4 x 400 team placed seventh, 3:53.89.

Utah State won the men’s team title with a score of 152.50. Cal State Northridge finished in at a very close second with 151.50. Cal Poly SLO finished third (143) while Idaho placed fourth (91) and Long Beach State (81) rounded out the top five.

Idaho’s women obliterated the competition, scoring of 213 points. CSUN took the silver with 129. Cal Poly finished third (22), UCR was fourth (77) and Utah State (66) cracked the top five.