Pete Dolan, UCSB track and field head coach, brought a third-place finish in the Big West Conference Track and Field Championships for the Gauchos along with him in his first year as coach in 1993 – and he’s secured the championship again this year. The men’s side took third place for the first time in twelve years this weekend in Irvine, Calif.

Perhaps the most exciting event of the meet was the final one, the men’s 4×400-meter relay Saturday. Last year, a runner from Irvine bumped a Gaucho runner and “accidentally” knocked the baton from his hands on the final leg of the race. This year, Santa Barbara gained some justice and stunned everyone by winning the event.

“It was the shit,” junior middle distance runner Tetlo Emmen, who ran the final leg for the Gauchos, said. “Right before I got the baton , the Irvine guy was talking shit in my ear, so I was like, no way.”

The victory astonished the rest of the teams. No one knew what the relay team was capable of, since the group – freshman Max Bellissimo, junior Ryan Donnelly, senior Ben Armel and Emmen – had never competed together this season. Their time of 3:11.93 was the best time the Gauchos have put together all season.

Saturday ended with a bang, but it also started with one in the hammer throw. In his personal-best throw, junior Eugene “Gene” Bradley launched the hammer 200 feet and 1 inch, only to be upset by Irvine’s junior thrower Mike Beerer, who was one inch shy of 205 feet.

“That was one of the best competitions of the meet,” Dolan said. “Gene’s a great sportsman and went up to the guy after the event and shook his hand.”

Sophomore Micah Tyhurst placed third in a deep 5,000-meter run field, earning him All-Conference honors with his time of 14:37.25, even after competing in the 10,000-meter run the night before. Tyhurst shocked everyone with his ability to compete against national-level competitors like Ben Bruce, the senior from Cal Poly who won the event.

“I’ve seen a lot of distance runners in my career, and Micah has something special,” Dolan said. “Ben Bruce is one of the best there is, and when he took off, Micah just said ‘I’m gonna roll with that guy.’ I was just in awe.”

A slew of strong performances and surprise finishes characterized Gaucho efforts in Irvine and their best every championship appearance ever. In 1993, Santa Barbara took third with 85 points. This year, they tallied 112.50 behind Northridge’s 142.50 and Cal Poly’s 135.