It was a weekend of personal bests and school records when the Santa Barbara track and field team headed to Walnut, Calif., for the Mount San Antonio College (SAC) Invitational and to Pomona for the Pomona Invitational.
Friday in Pomona, freshman Bethany Nickless set a new school record in the steeplechase event with a time of 10:50.53, about one and a half seconds faster than the NCAA regional qualifying mark. Junior sprinter Kylie McCuen set a new school record in the 200-meter with a time of 24.21.
“The woman who set that record was Jasmine Washington [last year’s 400-meter Big West Conference champion],” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “I thought that record would last a lot longer than it did.”
In Walnut, junior distance runner Lauren Christman turned in a record-breaking performance with a time of 4:20.90. The time was the second fastest of the day and broke UCSB’s previous best time by three seconds.
Sophomore distance runner Micah Tyhurst also turned in a personal best performance. Tyhurst has continued to show improvement by dropping his time in the 5,000-meter by 44 seconds from last year’s season best. Friday, he ran 14:17.72, shaving 20 seconds off of his previous personal best time.
“It’s kind of surreal right now,” Tyhurst said. “I’ve been feeling really good lately and it all fell together on Friday.”
Dolan had nothing but good things to say about the sophomore out of Los Angeles.
“Micah’s got an edge, the kind of edge that you can’t coach,” Dolan said. “It can cut both ways. Sometimes he trains too hard, but sometimes he can just cut down the competition. He looked like a dead man walking with three laps to go, and that’s when his edge turned on and he just cut the rest down.”
Also setting a new personal best was junior middle distance runner Tetlo Emmen. Emmen finished first in the 800-meter Olympic development run on Sunday with a time of 1:48.72, three hundredths of a second faster than his previous personal best.
“It was the first race in a while that I had fun in,” Emmen said. “I’ve been frustrated lately with how I’ve been running. But today I felt really strong and smooth.”
“That’s one of the top races of his life,” Dolan said. “He set a [personal record] and it wasn’t the kind of good conditions that PRs are normally set in.”
With the Big West Conference Tournament on the horizon, Dolan is looking for a more complete team effort heading into the championships.
“Our top people are really doing well,” Dolan said. “We need our medium people to step up and do well also. Our conference meet is where we stake our reputation. We still have room to develop. I think that like most coaches, I can always see areas where we need to get better.”