Three UCSB track and field athletes traveled to Des Moines, Iowa this week to compete in the NCAA Championships that took place at Drake Stadium this past Wednesday through Saturday.
Barbara Nwaba finished second in the heptathlon with a score of 5927, just short of her personal best. She was second only to Canadian Brianne Theisen who scored 6440 points as the second highest meet scorer in NCAA history for the event. Ryan Martin fell short of his second place goal to earn fourth place in the 800, while teammate Derek Masterson was unable to start in his events for the decathlon due to a hamstring injury.
Going into the meet, Nwaba’s biggest competition was with Chelsea Carrier-Eades of West Virginia University who placed third.
“I’m just freaking relieved, I really wanted that second place. It was definitely a battle for second, it didn’t come easy at all.”
Nwaba’s weakest event was the long jump where she jumped 17’10”, but she felt strong in the 800, with a personal best of 2:15.06 and with her high jump at a mark of 1.85 meters.
For the Gaucho men, Martin also ran his last collegiate race this week. After placing second in the Big West Championship 800 race with a time of 1:44.77 next to UC Irvine’s Charles Jock’s 1:44.75, the two rivals entered the NCAA Championship meet with the two fastest times in the country.
UCSB’s head track and field coach Pete Dolan noted Martin’s competition. “He knew there was one guy that could beat Jock, and that could be him.” Martin’s race however did not go as planned. He ran a 1:46.20 to earn fourth place while Jock took first with a time of 145.29.
Martin says training with more mileage prepared him better this year and he had more confidence than last year. He felt physically better but feels he didn’t run the smartest race.
“It was definitely a crowded race, and I was preparing for a fast first lap. I kind of got into too much traffic and just couldn’t make up ground in the end.”
Teammate Derek Masterson was also in Des Moines with Nwaba and Martin and was set to compete in the decathlon. Masterson pulled his hamstring at the Big West Championship meet while pole vaulting and was only partially recovered going into the NCAA Championship meet.
He knew it could possibly reinjure. “Yea it was a possibility, but it’s Nationals. You definitely got to go try. It’s the pinnacle of your track season as a track athlete.”
He re-pulled it while warming up and was unable to compete in his event. “Had probably the best warm-up, came out of the blocks at about 90% and steps three and five it just pulled.”
Masterson still has one more season left to compete at UCSB and plans to focus on recovery for now.
After this meet Nwaba plans to come back to shot put more in her training and will work on long jump and refresh her hurdles as well. She wants to hit the A standard at the 2012 USA Olympic Trials where she will be competing later this month and looks forward to it being less pressure than the NCAA Championship meet this week.
“It was my last collegiate meet. It felt more urgent and important so I just wanted it. It was special.”
Like Nwaba, Martin is headed to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials set for June 21st -July 1st in Eugene, Oregon and hopes to make the Olympic team.