The UCSB track team continued their impressive opening of the season, as the men recaptured the All-Cal Challenge Cup after losing it to Irvine last year, and the women had several great individual showings, contributing to a respectable third place finish.
The men’s team started off well with senior sprinter Jason Newland taking first in both the 100m and 200m. Newland ran a personal best of 10.90 seconds for his wind-legal – against the wind – time. Fellow senior sprinter Max Bellisimo won the 400m, coming in at 49.05 seconds, winning the race by one hundredth of a second. The men’s 4x400m relay finished second with a time of 3:14.93, three hundredths of a second behind the winner.
Despite the men winning the tournament, the truly outstanding athlete of the day was junior distance runner Katie Voigtlander. Voigtlander had not competed in the steeplechase since last season and was eager to see her progress after the offseason. The junior took first place, running a Regional qualifying time of 10:49:82 and a personal best by more than 25 seconds.
“I’m so excited all the hard work is finally paying off,” Voigtlander said. “I can’t even explain it.”
Voigtlander is now second on Santa Barbara’s all-time steeplechase list, behind current Assistant Coach Bethany Nickless. Voigtlander admits the success is surprising, as her goal for the season was to get 10:48. However, she has revised her goal, as she now has Nickless’ record on her mind.
“I never thought about it [the record],” Voigtlander said. “But now it’s in my sights.”
Junior distance runner Scott Smith continued his impressive season, winning the men’s 1500m and 3000m for the second week in a row. He came in five seconds before fellow junior Waleed Totari, who took second place. Smith’s times this weekend were not as good as the week before, and he has yet to qualify for Regionals, but he was still overall pleased with the result.
“My coach told me to do as little as I could to win both,” Smith said. “I think I did a good job of that.”
Junior distance runner Erik Aardal also won the men’s steeplechase with a time of 9:36.74. The race was the junior’s first collegiate victory.
True freshman Derek Masterson had quite a showing in the pole vault. Despite his youth, he mastered the event, clearing 15’1″ en route to his first collegiate victory. Although they failed to take first, the women vaulters also had a very impressive weekend. Freshman Tess Balcomb, sophomore Missy Burley and sophomore Jennifer Brown took second, third and fourth place, respectively, proving the Gauchos have one of the deepest women’s vaulting team in the conference. Having already cleared 11’5″ earlier this year, Brown looks to have a promising season. However, she failed to meet her PR this past weekend and is still looking to develop some consistency. Although Brown’s personal results left her bummed, she took refuge in seeing her team do so well.
“When the team does well and you see people’s hard work pay off, it’s awesome to celebrate their victories,” Brown said. “It gets you stoked.”