The Gauchos will be bringing back tradition this weekend. The UCSB men’s and women’s track and field team will host the 12th annual Big West Challenge Cup at Pauley Track on Saturday. Three of UCSB’s biggest rivals, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and UC Irvine, will travel to Santa Barbara for the quad meet.
“The athletes get excited because there’s a big rivalry between the four schools. The meet involves the full team – and in a big way,” Assistant Coach Jeff Jacobs said. “It usually comes down to the last two events to decide the meet.”
UCSB has been resting its top athletes for the past week, having them sit out last weekend’s Cal/Nevada Championship. The Gauchos hope to be competitive and place first or second in most of the events.
“This meet uses the traditional scoring. The top two finishers score points for the team,” Jacobs said. “This type of scoring isn’t used very often anymore.”
The UCSB women are favored to win the meet. With experienced runners like senior Jasmine Washington and junior Cosette Smith, the Gauchos pose tough competition. If the women perform as well as they have in the past few meets, then the team will most likely reach their goals. Jacobs said that the team must “still perform because the other teams won’t just give it to us.”
Washington is the favorite for the 200-meter and 400-meter dashes and will be a big factor in the success of the 4 x 100 and 4 x 400 relays. Two years ago at the Big West Challenge Cup, Washington set the all-time school records for fastest time in the 100 and 200. Sophomore Amy Haapanen is expected to excel in the throws as usual. Haapanen holds the Challenge Cup record for farthest shot put, which she set last year. However, she will receive big competition from Long Beach in the shot put, hammer throw and discus. Smith returns as the top distance runner and will compete in the 1500 against strong Irvine runners.
The men have improved lately in many areas and hope to defeat Irvine. Earlier in the season, Irvine overtook UCSB at the All-Cal Challenge Cup taking first and bumping the Gauchos into second.
“For the men’s side to overcome Irvine, a lot will have to go our way. We’ll need some personal record times and we’re light on the hurdles especially,” Jacobs said. “People are going to have to beat some runners.”
Junior Ben Armel and sophomore Tetlo Emmen could potentially finish in the top two in the 800, which would give Santa Barbara some solid points. Last weekend, senior Nohel Corral clocked in his fastest time of the season in the 400 and expects another strong performance on Saturday. The men also have four powerful runners in the lineup for the steeplechase including sophomore Carter Phelps and freshman Micah Tyhurst who improved their times by over 10 seconds last weekend. In the 3000-meter run, the Gauchos post six more talented runners with senior Chris White holding the best time.
The field events begin at 9:30 a.m. and the running will start at 1:00 p.m., both to take place at Pauley Track. The meet will also be broadcast live on KCSB 91.9 FM.