The UCSB women’s track and field team was nothing short of dominant, en route to their 112.5-85.5 victory over Cal Poly in the third-ever dual meet between the two schools, held last Saturday at Pauley Track.
“I’m really happy to beat Cal Poly,” Head Coach Pete Dolan said. “They’re at a position where they’re better funded than us, but we’re two very similar teams. It was good to go out there and beat them, I felt that our guys really deserved a win and they got it.”
Santa Barbara established its dominance early with an exciting victory in the 100-meter relay, setting a new school record of 46.42 seconds -four-tenths of a second faster than the previous record. Sophomore sprinter Kerry Gamble started the race off strong before handing the baton off to senior Kylie McCuen who burnt up the track in her final home meet of her college career. The duo of senior Elise Geiger and junior Leticia Pulido continued the fast pace and the team took first place in the event.
“Everyone will give it to Kylie when it comes to who’s the strongest leg,” Dolan said. “Even if you’re not a track fan you can tell she’s got good form. She’s smooth and quick and you just know, this girl’s rollin’.”
The 1,500-meter run was supposed to be Cal Poly’s strongest event with senior Deirdre Byrne leading the NCAA at the event. Byrne however did not compete, enabling junior Megan Lewis and sophomore Bethany Nickless to finish the event first and second for the Gauchos with times of 4:29.26 and 4:35.11, respectively.
“When they decided not to run her, that’s when I realized they were pretty much conceding the event,” Dolan said.
By mid-afternoon when it was time to run the 5,000-meter run, Santa Barbara had already locked up the victory against the Mustangs. Senior distance runner Seanna Martin was in the race to help pace freshman Liza Hitchner. Martin finished in first place with a time of 17:34, but it was Hitchner who created the drama. With less than a hundred yards left in the event, Hitchner collapsed on the track and was unable to finish the race.
“It probably goes back to her being sick the day before,” Dolan said. “If she had been seriously dehydrated we would have rushed her to the hospital instead of taking care of her in Isla Vista. But she seemed to respond pretty quickly and the trainers were right on top of it, so everything worked out OK.”
Saturday’s victory over the Mustangs marks the second time that Santa Barbara has prevailed in this, the third dual meet between the two schools.