The UCSB men’s track and field team thumped longtime rival Cal Poly in a battle of the Central Coast on Saturday.
Santa Barbara took the win in the dual meet over the Mustangs on its home turf and looked solid as the season nears its end. UCSB showed few weaknesses in the matchup, which came at a crucial time, with the Big West Championship and the NCAA Western Regional – for which some members of the team still need to post qualifying marks – quickly approaching.
Junior Ryan Donnelly, a 2005 NCAA regional qualifier, had a standout day, winning both the 100-meter dash and the long jump. In the 100, Donnelly took the lead from the blocks and held it in a very close race. In the long jump, he jumped far beyond the competition, but with two unfair jumps out of four, he was still slightly frustrated with the win.
“The [jumps] that felt good weren’t fair, and the ones that didn’t feel good were fair,” Donnelly said. “But that’s how it goes.”
Freshman Kris Shirley also put forth a quality effort, winning the 400-meter run as well as taking the win as the anchor in the 4×100 relay. In the 400, Shirley shaved one second off his previous best time and his mark for the day was fast enough to put him seventh on the UCSB all-time list.
In the relay, he took the lead given to him by a fast third leg of the race and lengthened it considerably. The relay team was unstoppable in all of their efforts on the day.
“Our handoffs won it for us today, they were really smooth,” Shirley said. “Our run was one of the best of the season.”
The distance runners also had a successful day, with junior Mike Chavez starting the day with a convincing win in the 3,000-meter steeplechase. Chavez set the pace for most of the race, until the last 800 meters when he exploded into the lead in a tremendous display of stamina. However, the worst beating of the day for the Gauchos came in the 1,500-meter run, in which Cal Poly swept the top four spots in a dominating fashion.
UCSB next travels to Claremont McKenna for the Claremont Classic on May 5 and 6. The Claremont Classic is the last chance for the Gauchos to prepare for the upcoming Big West and NCAA Regionals. The Big West Championship begins May 12 and the NCAA Regionals begin May 26.