UCSB’s track and field teams will be down at San Diego State University this weekend for the 38th annual Aztec Invitational, one of its most important meets of the season.

While their classmates have enjoyed a break from classes thus far before the start of spring quarter, both the men and women for Santa Barbara’s track and field team have kept busy preparing for the upcoming meet.

Daily Nexus File Photo

Daily Nexus File Photo

This weekend, Santa Barbara will have the opportunity to put itself to the test against an array of top-shelf competition.

The invitational will feature record levels of participation for the event as a total of 3,071 athletes are registered to compete.

Moreover, 105 teams are entered in the Aztec Invite, including 36 from universities and junior colleges. Notably for the Gauchos, among these squads are Big West contenders Hawaii and UC Davis.

The UCSB women’s team will look to continue its run of early season success, as it dominated its first three meets of the season before a bit of a warm-up meet last week in which both Gaucho teams were not anywhere close to full strength.

The women’s terrific season so far has been highlighted by wins over conference opponents UC Irvine, UC Riverside, and Cal Poly that each featured a large margin of victory for the Gauchos.

Senior distance runner Victoria Tsolis has been one of a few athletes leading the way for this women’s side, taking home a couple wins in the 800m and 1,500m in her last meet at UC Riverside and consistently coming out on top this season.

Senior javelin thrower Melissa Rake has also been looking very good this season, with a three wins including two weeks ago at the Riverside meet.

Jessica Emde, a senior high jumper, has been consistently impressive for the Gauchos as well. She has two event wins and a second place showing this season.

On the men’s side, senior distance runner Shyan Vaziri has been hitting his stride as of late. Vaziri posted a two-win performance at the Riverside meet, winning both the 800m and the 1,500m just like Tsolis did for the women.

The men will also look to another senior distance runner in Andrew Farkas this weekend, a guy who just returned from injury and illness two weeks ago. In his first meet back at Riverside, he was able to place third thanks to an inspiring sprint to the finish.

The Gaucho men will be looking to recover from a couple extremely close losses in the meets at Riverside and UC San Diego. This weekend is an opportunity for them to prove their worth against some stellar competition.

The Aztec Invitational will start Thursday with events for the men’s decathlon and women’s heptathlon at SDSU.

On Friday, the hammer throw for the invitational will be staged at the nearby UC San Diego campus starting at 1:00pm, while the rest of the Gauchos’ weekend events will be at SDSU.

Friday’s track events at SDSU begin at 8:30 a.m. with a decathlon event and the 110m hurdles, while the field events at SDSU start with the long jump for the heptathlon at 9 a.m.

Saturday’s invitational field events will begin at 10 a.m. with the women’s discus, and the invitational track events will start at 9:35 a.m. with the women’s 4×100 relay.