Hosting Central Coast- rival Cal Poly last Saturday at Pauley Track, the UC Santa Barbara men’s track team avenged last year’s loss while three more school records fell. After Cal Poly won both the men’s and women’s team competitions when the rivals clashed in 2008, the Gauchos were determined to respond in a big way.
The men mangled the Mustangs by a score of 109 to 92, but the women were not so lucky. Despite some incredible performances, the Gaucho women fell to Cal Poly by a score 105.5 to 94.5.
Even though the Santa Barbara men won, the real standout athlete of the day was none other than sophomore hurdler Barbara Nwaba, who has already had one of the best careers in Gaucho history in only her sophomore campaign. Nwaba came into this meet owning the school record in the heptathlon, and can now add the 400m and 100m hurdles records to her profile.
Nwaba has been gunning for the record in her main event, 400m hurdles, since last year, and her efforts were finally rewarded as she ran a 60.93 to eclipse the previous record set in 2001 by Lindsay Wells. Nwaba is now only one hundredth of a second off from qualifying for Regionals. The hurdler can now relax to a degree, wiping away copious amounts of self-inflicted pressure.
“I feel so relieved,” Nwaba said. “I’ve been trying to get that record forever.”
If setting one Santa Barbara record is good, then two is better. Nwaba ran 14.21 in the 100m hurdles to not only win the meet, but to also set another UCSB record. About halfway through an incredible career, the sophomore is ecstatic with her results.
“I’ve already accomplished more than I imagined I could,” Nwaba said.
After two years, the sophomore owns three school records and continues to set the bar high, still looking to qualify for Regionals in both the 400m hurdles and the high jump.
The other Santa Barbara record breaker was senior thrower Scott Anderson in the shot put. Anderson threw an incredible 58’8.5″ to beat his own school record by six inches. Heading into conference, he will look to go all conference by finishing in the top three in his event.
Junior distance runner Scott Smith posted a solid season and came into the meet second in conference to Cal Poly’s Derek Thomas. However, Smith ran 3:46.56 to take the win and earn first place points for his team, the difference-maker in team points for the meet.
Junior distance runner Katie Voigtlander picked up another win for her sensational season, coming in with a time of 11:00.11. Voigtlander qualified for Regionals last week with a time of 10:47.33. With a clear advantage over the Mustang runners, she used this race to focus on her form and learn how to shave off extra seconds for future competitions.
“I practiced form and didn’t worry about time,” Voigtlander said. “It helped me with my water jumps, and my barriers [jumps] are better.”
There are currently eight girls in the Big West Conference who have qualified for Regionals with times under 10:50.00. Voigtlander is currently ranked fourth and needs to earn one of the top three spots in order to make All-Conference.
UCSB had several other winners at the meet. The Gauchos were double winners in the high jump and hammer throw. Junior jumper Christina Nowak cleared 5’7″ and senior jumper David Hoff cleared 6’6.75″. Freshman thrower Alex Francis won the women’s hammer throw with a distance of 145’3″ while sophomore thrower Alex Umstead threw 178’1″ to continue his strong season.
Sophomore pole vaulter Missy Burley had a good showing, taking second place after the organizers had to alter the pole vault runway due to a hole. Burley admits that it likely affected everyone the same way, but it threw her off her game and prevented her from reaching a personal record. Burley and fellow sophomore pole vaulter Jennifer Brown are both seeking to clear 12 feet at conference, which is only two weeks away.