UCSB men’s tracksters take back All-Cal Cup

IRVINE — A trophy has returned to the UCSB track and field program, as the Gaucho men re-captured the All-Cal Challenge Cup a year after losing it to UC Irvine. The men completed today’s meet with 198.50 points, ahead of second-place UC Irvine’s 186.50. The women showed promising signs as well, improving on last season’s finish by taking third with 140 points.

Vital contributions on the men’s side came from Jason Newland, who was a double-winner in the 100m and 200m dashes. His win in the 100m was a new wind-legal personal best of 10.90 (he has run 10.63 wind-aided). Later in the meet he won the 200m with a time of 21.93, picking up key sprints points that were hard to come by last season.

To put a sweep on the individual sprints, Max Bellissimo won the 400m dash with a time of 49.05. He edged UCI’s Marcus Marbery by one hundredth of a second. The men also ran an improved 4x400m relay of 3:14.93. Although they were edged on the home stretch by UC Irvine, the relays have made tremendous improvements and will be competitive in the Big West Conference this season.

Katie Voigtlander had one of the best individual performances of the season thus far, winning the steeplechase at 10:49.82. That is a new personal best for Voigtlander, improving on her previous time by more than 25 seconds. She moves up to second on the UCSB all-time steeplechase list, behind Gaucho assistant coach Bethany Nickless. Voigtlander’s time also meets the NCAA Regional qualifying standard, and if she runs under 10:50 within the qualifying window she will earn a ticket to Regionals.

In the men’s distance races, Scott Smith continued his winning ways with another double-win in the 1500m and 3000m. He ran faster in the 1500m this weekend, crossing the line in 3:53.41 to win by more than three seconds. His time in the 3000m was 8:33.22, which was about five seconds ahead of teammate Waleed Totari, who took second.

Erik Aardal ran the steeplechase for the men and notched his first collegiate win, crossing the line in 9:36.74. Also in the race was redshirt freshman Kyle Louv, who was competing in his first collegiate steeplechase. He had a solid showing, running just off the Conference mark with a time of 9:41.70.

Ashley Beechan ran well in the 3000m for the women, improving on her time from last week with a 10:20.08. Sheneice Vargas also placed in the top-three in the distances, taking third in the 800m at 2:20.08.

Barbara Nwaba competed in her first 400m hurdles race in almost a year–her last appearance was the Stanford Invitational on April 6, 2008. She had a good return, finishing in second place at 64.12.

Some good performances out in the field came from Tess Balcomb and Irene Kujore. Balcomb was second in the pole vault with a clearance of 11-5.75 (3.50m), which came on her third and final attempt at that height. Kujore was second in the shot put with her best mark measuring 40-8.25 (12.40m).

Other event winners for the men were Derek Masterson in the pole vault (15-1, 4.60m) and Michael Guerra in the javelin (162-2, 49.42m).

The Gauchos continue their season next weekend at the Ben Brown Invitational. The meet will take place on Saturday, March 7.