The UCSB men’s and women’s track teams have officially commenced the 2009 outdoor season, having competed in the second annual Gaucho Round-Up this past weekend. The Gaucho Round-Up is a quad-meet between Claremont, Pepperdine, Westmont and Santa Barbara.

Both the men’s and women’s teams won first place by commanding margins. The women racked up a blistering total of 230 points, while the men earned an impressive 235. Although UCSB dominated the Round-Up, their competition wasn’t the toughest they will face this season, and the Gauchos will have to wait until this weekend’s conference opener at Irvine to get a more accurate view of where they stand.

“We performed really well,” junior distance runner Scott Smith said. “But these teams weren’t super strong. We’ll get a better indicator of where we are this [upcoming] weekend as we’re facing some conference teams.”

Smith had a very impressive showing to open up his season. The junior took first place in both the 1500 meter and 3000 meter races, even qualifying for the Big West Conference tournament in the 1500m, which is quite a feat this early in the season.

Senior jumper David Hoff had an impressive showing, as he competed in four events, taking second place in both the long and triple jump, and winning the high jump with a height of 6’8.75″. Hoff only competed in the high jump last year, but is transitioning into becoming a decathlete, making competing in numerous events in one day essential to his stamina. Hoff’s first decathlon won’t take place until March 13, so his goal for now is to see the areas he needs to improve in.

“[By] competing in more events, I can walk away from the track having success in some areas and see where I need to improve in others,” Hoff said.

Sophomore thrower Alex Umstead qualified for conference in the hammer throw with a personal record of 170’10.5″. Umstead also took second place in the shot put, while junior thrower Hector Serrano won the event with a throw over 52 feet.

The Gaucho women’s sprinters also had a spectacular showing on the home track. Sophomore Barbara Nwaba took first place in the 400m with a time of 57.09 seconds. Fellow sophomore Lauren Kodama also had a successful outing, taking first place in the 100-meter dash with a time of 12.70 seconds and first place in the 200-meter dash with a time of 26.11 seconds. Despite taking gold in both events, Kodama was not thrilled with her times, and is looking to improve in order to qualify for conference.

“The times weren’t what I wanted to get,” Kodama said. “But they weren’t bad. I want to improve consistently throughout the season and get under 12.3 [seconds].”

Last, but not least, the Gaucho pole vaulters had an excellent weekend as sophomore Missy Burley took first place in the event and freshman Tess Balcomb finished runner up. Neither Gaucho hit their personal record, but they still vaulted high enough to nab first and second place. Burley, who has had a rough season opening, was very pleased with her showing, calling it “a great confidence booster.” Her immediate goal is to clear 11’6″ but she has much grander aspirations of the season.

“It’s high hopes, but I want to make a regional height,” Burley said. “For now, I want to do well at each meet and improve consistently.”