The Santa Barbara track team competed in the Big West Challenge Cup at Cal State Fullerton this past weekend and saw another pair of Gauchos earn bids to the NCAA Western Regionals.
Freshman thrower Irene Kujore and redshirt freshman middle distance runner Ryan Martin both qualified in their first seasons in competition. Kujore threw 158-11 feet in the discus, which was good enough for second place in the tournament and fourth place on UCSB’s all-time list. Her immediate success appears to have marked the beginnings of a very promising career.
Martin, another Gaucho with a promising career, qualified in the 800m with a final time of 1:49.79 seconds for first place. In only his first year of competition, he has placed himself fifth in Santa Barbara’s record books while qualifying for Regionals and defying everyone’s expectations, including his own. With a Regional bid in the books, the redshirt freshman is aiming to go even further.
“Hopefully I can make nationals,” Martin said. “That’s the ultimate goal of my college career.”
Senior distance runner Scott Smith continued his successful season by qualifying for Regionals in his second event of the year. The senior ran 3:47.66 in the 1500m, to narrowly defeat Long Beach State runner Matt Maldonado by a tenth of a second.
Junior thrower Christina Nowak threw 115-6 in the javelin, good enough to finish in third place and qualify for conference. Freshman thrower Chicci Amadi also qualified for conference with a throw of 148-4 in the hammer throw.
Senior sprinter Jason Newland also reached some new marks this past weekend in Fullerton. The senior ran a personal best of 10.69 seconds in the 100m dash, a hair’s distance away from matching the 10.55 he needs to qualify for Regionals. With only three to four more meets remaining in the season, the senior is hoping his hard work will allow him to reach new heights.
“I really want to break the school record [10.56 seconds],” Newland said. “I also want to go all conference which will be good for team points in the conference tournament.
The Long Beach men won the past weekend’s challenge cup scoring 209 points, with UCSB finishing in second place with 178 points, just ahead of Irvine and Cal State Fullerton. The women’s team challenge was much more evenly balanced as all the teams finished within 40 points of each other and the Gaucho women just narrowly missed the third place spot, finishing fourth with a respectable 152 points.
With Santa Barbara’s recent success, the Gauchos remain highly confident in their ability to compete and possibly win the Conference Cup.
“We may come in as underdogs, but we are looking better,” Newland said.
Next weekend will see part of the team traveling to the Azusa Pacific Invitational on Friday, while a select few will compete in the extremely competitive Mt. SAC Relays this Friday and Saturday.