The UCSB track and field team has split its roster three times this season to send competitors to separate meets in separate cities. This Saturday it will do it for the second weekend in a row while it competes in the final two meets of the year before the Big West Conference Championships.
Eagle Rock, Calif., and Occidental College will receive Santa Barbara’s middle distance and distance runners to compete in the Oxy Invitational, while the throwers, hurdlers and sprinters head to Northridge to compete in the Northridge Open.
“We’re going to be smart about it,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “We’re just going to get done what needs to get done.”
One thing that remains to happen for several runners is qualifying for the Big West Championships held May 11. Those runners are senior distance runner Jason Boyce, junior distance runner Leslie Alexander and sophomore middle distance runner Christie Farson. The rest of the team will use the weekend as a chance to hammer out any kinks they may have before the championships.
“There’s a couple people who don’t have their conference-qualifying times yet,” Dolan said. “For the rest it’s just a tuneup.”
Assistant Coach John Dagata will head to Northridge along with part of the team to perform the same task as those headed to Eagle Rock.
“We’re in a kind of tuneup situation,” Dagata said. “Real low-key.”
Most schools will be coming in with the same mentality of warming up for the conference championships, but that doesn’t mean that competition will be any lighter.
“It’s a good atmosphere conducive to good times,” Dolan said. “Everyone is usually in really good shape by this time of year.”
And don’t expect Santa Barbara to take the competition lightly either.
“You want to have a quality meet,” Dagata said. “Something to help you get ready for next week.”
The Gauchos head into this weekend focusing on the task at hand. Santa Barbara plans on dealing with the Big West Championships when it is time to deal with them, and that is after the Northridge Open.
“We’re trying to play it down right now,” Dolan said. “You can’t hold an adrenaline rush for 14 days.”
Dolan is confident of Santa Barbara’s chances this year in the championships. He feels that the women have a shot at winning the conference title this year and that the men’s side can break into the top three, a feat not accomplished by the Gauchos since 1993.