The UCSB track and field team rewrote the record books this week. The Gauchos competed in two separate meets, the Pomona-Pitzer Track and Field Invitational and the Mt. San Antonio College Invitational.
“At Pomona, there were really outstanding marks, especially [freshmen Nick] Cunningham and [Mike] Chavez. There were a lot personal bests in the 1,500 meters,” Assistant Coach Jeff Jacobs said. “It was exciting overall.”
At Pomona, Cunningham and Chavez entered the record books for their performances in the 200 and 1,500 meters, respectively. Cunningham now holds the second all-time UCSB record at 21.37. He placed sixth overall at the meet and also took 10th in the 100 meters. Chavez ran 3:51.70 in the 1,500, a time good enough for the ninth all-time UCSB record and a sixth place finish at the invitational.
“Mike is faster than any freshman in the 1,500. To crack in the top 10 is really outstanding. He’s just always improving,” Jacobs said. “Nick’s record is a big breakthrough. The future is exciting for both guys. They are the best recruits we’ve ever had.”
In the field events, UCSB did well against the competition, but did not make much personal progress. Freshman Gianpaolo Licata qualified for the Big West regional meet in the javelin throw. Senior Mark Martello took second in the pole vault. Junior Hunter Orahood jumped 1.96 meters to take sixth and sophomore Isaac Herrera placed sixth in the long jump.
The women did well in the field events. Sophomore Amy Haapanen took 10th in the hammer throw, competing against the top women in the country and just missing a school record. Freshman Heather Hernandez took fourth in the high jump, followed closely by freshman Devon Tracy in fifth. In the triple jump, freshman Ashley Coelho finished fifth with Tracy just behind in sixth. In the running events, junior Desiree DeJesus posted a new personal best in the 1,500 and took ninth at the meet. Sophomore Lindsay Christman finished in the top 10 in the 800 meters.
At the Mt. SAC Invitational, five Gauchos posted NCAA regional marks. In the men’s 5,000 meters, senior Chris White ran 14:12.97, setting the fourth best UCSB all-time record and taking sixth at the invitational.
“Chris White ran great. He had to make a decision early on to stay in the pack or go ahead. He went for it and it paid off,” Jacobs said. “He’s come through big this year with a fantastic season. He’s capping off his career as a senior.”
In the men’s 800, junior Ben Armel took first place overall and sophomore Tetlo Emmen finished less than a second behind in fifth place. Both Gauchos posted regional marks. Senior Nohel Corral ran an impressive 400 meters, taking 13th and just missing a record despite the 50-degree weather and rain.
“At the 800, it wasn’t looking good position-wise for Ben and Tetlo. But Ben took off and passed all the runners within the last 100 to get the fastest time of the night. Tetlo made a big move in the last 200,” Jacobs said.
For the women, juniors Cosette Smith took second and Desiree Leek finished third in the 5000. Both times were NCAA regional marks. Sophomore Lauren Christman finished 22nd in the 800. Haapanen set a new school record at 52 feet for shot put.
“The girls ran tough. Cosette did the work and Desiree followed. Both women are in the mix to qualify for the national meet,” Jacobs said.
The Gauchos look forward to their dual home meet next weekend against Cal Poly and the opportunity to make more personal progress.
“We keep moving on. More players have a shot to make regionals and nationals,” Jacobs said.