Apparently, the UCSB women’s track and field team loves a good challenge.
The women won their second straight Big West Challenge Cup at Long Beach on Saturday, while the Santa Barbara men finished third in the four-school event.
“We were able to repeat victory. Our goal was to come in as a team and show the Gaucho presence,” junior Amy Haapanen said. “We are a force to be reckoned with as individuals and as a team.”
With junior sprinter Elise Geiger out due to injury and the exclusion of the steeplechase from the meet, the Gauchos faced a tough task. Junior Kylie McCuen provided relief, winning the 400-meter and the 200 before running two relays for the women.
“She wanted a win and she got us there,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “It’s tough to run a double [100 and 200]. Kylie is truly the standout.”
In the throws, Haapanen and junior Heather Quinn had gigantic days. Haapanen won the hammer, discus and shot put, while Quinn finished second in the discus and hammer throw and third in the shot put. Junior Lauren Christman took control of the 1,500 and set a Challenge Cup record with a time of 4:30.87. Senior Stephanie Rothstein squeezed out a win in the 3,000 and became the sixth-fastest Gaucho ever in the event.
The men were set back by a number of problems, including freshman sprinter Max Bellissimo’s strained muscle that prevented him from competing.
“No one ran terribly but nothing went as planned,” Dolan said. “The effort was there but we didn’t win. We weren’t in the mix.”
Senior Ben Armel took second in the 800-meter and junior Scott McConville recorded a second-place finish in the 1,500 to lead the Gauchos.
“It’s never fun to lose a race, but it just shows how much work I need to do,” McConville said. “It’s a learning experience for all of us. We have high goals this season and it proves they won’t be handed to us on a plate. We have a lot to improve on and prepare for.”
Freshman Scott Anderson came through for the Gauchos in his first collegiate meet, taking first in the shot put. Junior Sean Thomas-Bignami finished a strong second in the pole vault, scoring much-needed points for the men.
“It’s a tuneup for conference [in mid-May]. We know what to improve on,” McConville said. “Now we need to work on it, get healthy and prepare better.”