The UCSB track and field team faced its toughest competition yet this past weekend, when it traveled north to compete in the Stanford Invitational and made some noise among the national ranks, collecting three NCAA regional qualifying times.
The Gauchos were unfazed by the national powerhouses, which included the likes of UCLA, USC and other nationally ranked universities, and managed to turn out some season-best and even career-best performances.
“We were not intimidated at all,” junior hurdler Elmer Guzman said. “We knew how we had to run to compete with the bigger schools and had great performances like Chris Ashley in the 5,000 meter and Barbara Nwaba in the hurdles.”
Senior distance runner Chris Ashley returned to the oval after battling injuries last season, and ran away with a career-best 14:03.26 in the 5,000 meter-run, good enough for a ninth-place finish and an automatic entry into the NCAA Regional qualifiers.
Fellow distance runner Danielle Domenichelli’s time of 16:39.20 in the 5,000m yielded another NCAA qualifying time for the Gauchos, while also giving her a second-place finish in her section of runners. The third Gaucho to qualify for regionals was senior steeplechaser Michael Powers, with a time of 9:05.37.
Other notable performances once again include the throwing squad duo of Jeff Stewart and Matt Barkley, whose throws of 56’5.25″ and 55’7.75″ in the shot-put gave them a third- and fifth-place finish, respectively. Freshman Barbara Nwaba’s outstanding time of 62.79 in the 400m hurdles gave the first-year Gaucho an eighth-place finish overall.
Despite only taking a fraction of the track squad, the Gauchos cranked out memorable performances that they hope to build off of for their NCAA run.
“For only taking a small portion of our team, I think that we did really well,” Guzman said. “Overall, there were some good marks that were ran and thrown; overall, it just went well, especially for our distance runners.”
The Gauchos will return to action this Friday, when they travel down to Irvine to compete against conference foes in the Big West Challenge.