At UCSB it’s hard enough to major in biology. It’s even harder to do it with five hours of the day dedicated to training and practice, but that’s exactly what junior thrower Eugene Bradley does day in and day out.
The junior hammer thrower and shot-putter from Antioch, Calif., worked hard to get on the Gaucho roster. Bradley was never formally recruited, but when the track and field coaching staff saw what he could do they offered him a scholarship to throw for Santa Barbara. Three years later, Bradley is the Gauchos’ top hammer thrower and his mark of 199 feet is the third best in the Big West.
“[The season]’s gone pretty good so far,” Bradley said. “That mark is good for second or third in the league, so I still got a little work to do.”
The man known as “Big Gene” is rarely found relaxing or socializing with other students. He’s not an unfriendly guy, but with practices twice daily and keeping up with classes, there is very little time left for a break.
“He practices two times a day, every day. People don’t realize how much time he actually spends working,” Assistant Coach John Dagata said. “He’s constantly on the run, he’s going to practice, going to class, going to the library then back to practice; he’s going and he’s on the run 18 to 19 hours a day.”
Dagata attributes the success Bradley has had this season to this dedication and attention to detail. Big Gene didn’t start throwing until his senior year at Deer Valley High School, proving just how fast of a learner he is.
“The thing that makes Eugene special is his attention to detail; anything I tell him to do he does it,” Dagata said. “He didn’t even really throw in high school and he’s just been making the most of his time here. He’s always working, whether it’s lifting, training, throwing, whatever.” Although Bradley’s best event may be the hammer throw, he had the top mark among Gaucho throwers in the shot put at the start of the season. Bradley struggled to be competitive until a breakout performance on April 30 in San Luis Obispo at the Cal Poly five-way meet.
In what he described as his most memorable moment of the season, Bradley launched the shot put 54’8.25″, about five feet farther than his previous season best and just 4.25 inches short of first place in the event. The distance was also good enough to qualify for the NCAA Regionals.
“I wasn’t all that surprised to see him do well,” Dagata said. “But I was surprised to see him go from 50 to 55 feet pretty much overnight. He just worked so hard to qualify … no one puts more pressure on himself than Eugene.”
Bradley will compete in this week’s Big West Conference Championships when he throws in the shot put on Friday. Fans in attendance can expect big things from a shot put event featuring four Gauchos capable of throwing over 53 feet.
“He’s going to do well,” Dagata said. “I think something special is bound to happen in the shot put.”