The UCSB women’s track team sent 16 Gauchos to Seattle this Saturday to compete in the Washington Invitational for their first meet of the year. With matches against a few Pac-10 squads this preseason, Santa Barbara has a tough schedule to start the year. However, the Gauchos are feeling confident after their first indoor meet in this year’s season.

“It was a really good eye opener to see where we are on the season,” sophomore pole vaulter Jennifer Brown said.

Brown set a new personal record as she cleared a bar of 11 feet, by 1.75 inches. Although Brown has higher aspirations, she feels good about her showing this early in the season.

“At this point of the season, I feel really well [about my jump],” Brown said. “It’s going to be a long season.”

Brown finished second on the team in the pole vault to freshman Tess Balcomb, who hit 11 feet 6.5 inches in her first competition for Santa Barbara. She took sixth overall and looks to have a very promising career at UCSB.

The Gaucho sprinters also opened up well with sophomore Dominique Augustus taking second in her heat with a 400-meter time of 59.67 seconds while sophomore Barbara Nwaba was right behind her, finishing the 400 at 59.98 seconds. Fellow sophomore Lauren Kodama came in behind them at one minute flat. With her personal record at a swift 58 seconds, she was upset by her overall performance.

“It was a little disappointing coming out of last season,” Kodama said. “But it is a good starting point for the season.”

With more competition slated for this weekend, Kodama is looking to improve her time and get close to her PR.

“I want to break a minute [this weekend],” Kodama said. “59 seconds [is my goal]. I’m taking baby steps.”

Senior high jumper Jane Doolittle in fact did a lot as she opened up the season with exceptional marks. Doolittle led all Gaucho women as she cleared a height of 5 feet 6 inches.

The Santa Barbara throwers were nervous heading into competition thanks to a switch in their throwing technique. After using the glide last year, the women are now using the spin technique, and seem optimistic about their season in light of their results from this weekend. Junior shot putter Jean Lightfoot already improved her distance from last year as she threw 13.09 feet. Fellow junior shot putter Kayla Smith threw 13.93 feet to take fifth overall in the competition. Smith did not meet her PR of 14.14 feet, however, she remains optimistic with the new style saying she will definitely pass her PR with the spin.

“[My results] are very promising,” Smith said. “[It was a] good opening after converting from the glide to the spin.”

Although two months away from the regular season, the Gauchos will look to keep their momentum going by heading all the way to Boise, Idaho to compete in the United Heritage Invitational.