Thirteen Gauchos will attempt to qualify for the NCAA Division I Track and Field National Championships at the newly instated west regional competition, held today and tomorrow at Stanford’s Cobb Track & Angel Field.
The NCAA’s new regional championship format makes its debut this weekend at the four regional championships taking place across the nation.
“Qualifying for nationals will be much different this year,” UCSB Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “It will be in the Olympic style, so the top five finishers in each event automatically qualify for nationals.”
In previous years, the national championship was based on the best times and marks from the regular season.
“Preparing for regionals has been pretty easy because this is the first time that we’ve had a regional competition,” Dolan said. “Everyone is very excited because it gives anyone a chance to qualify for nationals based on how well they did in the regionals.”
In addition, six at-large berths in each event go to athletes who fail to qualify at regionals. Those picks will be based on performances during the season.
Five competitors from the women’s track and field team will represent the Gauchos this weekend. Senior Liz Mallon will compete in the 3000-meter steeplechase, qualifying with a time of 10:56.45.
Senior team captain Katie Appenrodt and sophomore Cosette Smith both qualified for the 5000 meter with times of 16:35.63 and 16:55.70, respectively. Senior Deborah Samson competes in the pole vault with a qualifying mark of 4.02m, and freshman Amy Haapanen qualified for both the shot put and the discus throw with qualifying marks of 14.59m and 49.28m.
Representing the men’s team will be freshman Scott McConville and senior Bryon Lamorandier. Both qualified to run the 1500-meter race, as McConville ran a 3:49.24 and Lamorandier posted a time of 3:52.12. Sophomore Scott Brandos and senior J.T. Service qualified for the 3000-meter steeplechase with times of 9:06.14 and 9:08.78, respectively.
Senior Aaron Sharp qualified for the 5000 with a time of 14:18, and senior Cheyne Murray qualified for the discus throw with a mark of 52.38m. Junior Mark Martello qualified in the pole vault with a mark of 4.9m, and freshman Kent Centers qualified in the high jump with a mark of 2.11m.
“Katie Appenrodt and Deborah Samson have very good promise to make the nationals,” Dolan said. “The positive thing about the NCAA’s new format is that everyone competing has an equal opportunity to make it.”
Appenrodt, whose qualifying time was only .17 seconds off her school record, is excited about her chances for nationals in the 5000.
“I’m hoping to finish with a time of around 16:20.00,” Appenrodt said. “Right now, the most important thing is to just stay rested so I can be at my best on Friday.”
Dolan applauded his team on its performance this year.
“Qualifying times for regionals are based on the top 100 times in each event from last year,” Dolan said. “It’s encouraging to be able to say that we have 13 competitors ranked in the top 100 in their events.”
The National Championships will combine all the qualifiers from the four regional championships and will be held in Sacramento June 11 through the 13th.