The UC Santa Barbara track and field team competed in the two-day meet of the Big West Championships, hosted by California State University, Fullerton. The Gauchos came home with three gold champions and 12 other athletes reaching the podium. 

Nexus File Photo

On day one of the meet, redshirt freshman thrower Amanda Spear took the day’s best performance. Spear took the podium twice, finishing in second for discus and hammer. Spear almost broke her personal record in the hammer throw but was just shy as the throw went 54.53 meters. Her discus throw was 50.16 meters.

Spear’s teammates did not walk onto the podium but did place high enough to earn points for the overall team score. Sophomore jumper Emma Barthel placed No. 5, sophomore multi Eitan Goore placed No. 6 in the pole vault and sophomore thrower Jackson Trimble got No. 6 in the discus, while sophomore thrower Jared Freeman placed behind him at No. 7. 

The Gauchos also scored in distance running for the 3000-meter steeplechase, as junior runner Sierra Ransweiler placed No. 7, junior runner Madeline Franco placed No. 8 and sophomore runner Zane Golpariani placed No. 4.

In day two of the meet for the track events, many Gauchos gave themselves a chance to make it on the podium and help the Gauchos in points to take home the Big West Championship. 

Only the top 10 runners in the prelims can move on to qualify for day two of the meet. For the qualifiers, sophomore runner Lauren Lum in the 1500, sophomore hurdler Tyler Holl in the 110 hurdles and 400 hurdles, freshman hurdler Dario Rock in the 110 hurdles, junior sprinter Deonne McCrary and sophomore sprinter Brendan Fong in the 400, sophomore multi Mariana Lanz in the 400 and 400 hurdles, sophomore runner Advait Krishnan and sophomore runner Isabella Abusaid in the 800 and freshman sprinter Finn Andrews in the 400. 

 On day two of the meet, junior thrower Malia Benson made  her presence known, as she was the first Gaucho to earn gold. Benson did not need any extra throws, as her first throw was the furthest throw out of everybody. Benson threw the javelin 50.08 meters while her opponent threw it 47.60.

Benson was the first to earn gold, but freshman distance runner Ethan Godsey was the first to earn gold for the men. Godsey was crowned, as he placed first in the 5000. Godsey did not push the pace too early, staying in the middle with all the other runners. With the race ending, Godsey made his move on the last 5 laps to put himself first. Godsey inched out the other athlete behind him, winning by 0.81 of a second. 

The final Gaucho to take gold was freshman jumper Leon Gillis for the high jump. Gillis’ highest jump is marked at 2.14 meters, which equates to 7.25 feet. Gillis was busy with other events, missing his first attempt at 6 feet, 9 inches but came back later to clear it and cleared two more heights to take the gold.

At the conclusion of the competition, the men’s team placed No. 4, accumulating a total of 90 points, whereas the women’s team achieved No. 5 with 85 points. This marked the culmination of the Gauchos’ 2023 season, as they eagerly await to determine if any of their athletes will qualify for the postseason.