Junior Barbara Nwaba is determined to make a splash at this year’s NCAA Track and Field Championships.  After a jaw-dropping score of 5552 in the heptathlon at the Big West Championships, Nwaba has guaranteed herself a spot in the NCAAs.

“Last year I barely missed a spot,” Nwaba said. “This year I’m looking for a top-eight finish.”

[media-credit id=20037 align=”alignleft” width=”250″][/media-credit]Without a doubt, Nwaba has set the bar high as one of the premier athletes on the UCSB track and field team.

“Barbara is one of the most coachable athletes I have ever met,” Coach Josh Priester said. “She is serious about training and has a cool demeanor.”

Nwaba had a difficult decision to make after qualifying for nationals in the 400m hurdles, high jump and heptathlon.

After much deliberation, the native of Los Angeles, California decided to focus her efforts on the heptathlon — an event where acquiring an All-American honor is not out of the question. Nwaba has the advantage of skipping the preliminaries and moving straight into the finals.

“The key for me is to stay focused and keep training,” Nwaba said. “I just have to keep getting in reps.”

Practice and preparation are key in the heptathlon, an event that features seven different contests. These challenges include the 100m hurdles, high jump, shot put, long jump, javelin throw and the 200m and 800m races.

Nwaba’s versatility on the track and field led her to the heptathlon soon after entering the Gaucho ranks. And in just her second year competing in the event, her improvement has been incredible.  As a sophomore, her personal best in the contest was a 5039, but she has now bested the previous school record by 300 points.

Still with another year of eligibility, Nwaba is primed for a breakout performance at the Nationals. But with all the strides she has already made in her collegiate career, a top-flight finish is certainly within reach.