This weekend the UCSB track and field team will be running for more than just fast times – as the Gauchos will be running for peace when they travel to Aliso Viejo, Ca. for the third annual “Soka University Peace Invitational.”

“Peace is one of our school’s principles,” meet organizer and Soka University Head Coach Karla Bailey said. “It’s based on the Buddhist principles of peace and life. The Buddhist concepts of peace and human rights are our university’s main philosophies and it is in that spirit what we developed this invitational.”

Over eleven schools will participate this weekend, including University of California rivals UC Irvine and UC Riverside.

“There is a great selection of teams from all over Southern California and over 100 open athletes running unattached or for a track club,” Bailey said.

Soka University’s new track and field facility, recently completed in 2004, will present the Gauchos with a great arena to set personal bests. Reigning Big West Track Athlete of the Week Ryan Martin, who ran a speedy 1:52.41 in the 800-meter event during last week’s All-Cal Cup, will look to build on that performance with another strong outing. Outstanding Gaucho thrower Jeff Stewart, who took first in both the hammer and shot put in last weeks meet, will join Martin on the men’s squad.

On the women’s team, distance runners Danielle Domenichelli and Bethany Nickless look to continue their great starts early in the 2008 season, as they finished second and fourth respectively in last weeks 3000-meter run. In the field events, junior Jane Doolittle will look to continue her dominance in the high jump this week for the Gauchos – her jump of 5’5″ brought home the sole Gaucho first place finish in last week’s meet.

“[The Soka Invitational] should be a great chance to see amazing performances as well as to promote peace in our society,” Bailey said.

The invitational begins at noon with the men’s hammer throw and the first race will begin at 2 p.m. with the 3000-meter run.