FitzSimons, Nwaba stand on podium at USAT&F Championships

Tom FitzSimons moved from 10th place to a podium finish of third in the decathlon.

Tom FitzSimons Jr. moved from 10th place to a podium finish of third in the decathlon at the USA Track & Field Championships.


SACRAMENTO – The Santa Barbara Track Club had a big day at the USA Track & Field Championships, placing two athletes on the podium in the multi-events competition.

Tom FitzSimons Jr. dug deep and won the 1500 meters by more than eight seconds, vaulting him to a third-place finish in the decathlon with 7,645 points. FitzSimons ran 4:19.01.

Barbara Nwaba set two personal bests on the second day of the heptathlon and finished second with a personal record of 6,307 points. The total is the 14th best on the all-time U.S. heptathlete list. Former Cal Poly star and 2012 U.S. Olympian Sharon Day took first with 6,470 points.

Nwaba led off with a personal record in the long jump with a mark of 19-9 and followed it up with another personal record in the javelin at 143-6.

She capped her day with a solid 800-meter run, clocking 2:13.76.

Barbara Nwaba scored a personal record of  6,307 points to finish second in the heptathlon at the USA Track & Field Championships.

Barbara Nwaba scored a personal record of 6,307 points to finish second in the heptathlon at the USA Track & Field Championships.

Nwaba was thrilled with her two-day performance.

“To have only cracked 6,000 points for the first time earlier this year and now find myself amongst the all-time greats in the U.S. is a really exciting,” said Nwaba, a 2012 UCSB graduate. “It was hard missing an opportunity last year to qualify for the World Championships being out for injury. This was the breakthrough I have been working toward and it’s a real blessing.”

Said SBTC coach Josh Priester: “Barbara is one of the most disciplined athletes I have ever had the pleasure of coaching, and to come out and perform as well as she did in a championship event is thrilling.”

Nwaba scored a personal high of 3,802 points on the first day, just 123 points behind Day. She scored a personal best in the 100m hurdles in a heptathlon competition to kick off the day and then notched personal records in the shot put and 200m to round out the afternoon.

FitzSimons was in 10th place after the first day of the decathlon with 3,800 points. UCSB alum Derek Masterson had 3,656 points. FitzSimons opened the second day of competition with a season’s best in the 110m hurdles (15.19), followed by a discus throw just off his personal record (129-6i). He notched personal records in the pole vault (15-1) and javelin (200-9), positioning himself in a crowded field up front, just 57 points off of fourth place and 204 points off of third place.

As one of the stronger 1500m athletes in the field, FitzSimons quickly found himself near the front of the race and jetted into the lead with two laps to go. A gritty athlete who qualified for his first national championships less than three weeks ago, FitzSimons crossed the line in first in 4:19.01 to earn his spot on the podium at the USA National Championships.

“It feels amazing. My coach and training partners at the SBTC have really allowed me to vault myself to a new level,” said FitzSimons. “It’s great to look back and know you’ve made the right moves from high school to college and now professionally. I have had a lot of incredible support along the way.”

Priester had all the confidence in FitzSimons.

“I knew Tom was capable of surprising people this weekend and it was incredible to see the determination he had throughout the second day of competition, said Priester. “It was a historic day for the SBTC as we had our first podium finisher at the outdoor national championships.”

In other results from SBTC athletes, Lindsay Schwartz completed the heptathlon in ninth place with 5,816 points. For Schwartz, this was a strong showing considering that she missed eight weeks due to an Achilles injury in early April at the Sam Adams Combined Events Invitational.

• Santa Barbara native and 2014 Chico State graduate J. Patrick Smith finished in 6th place in the decathlon with 7,567 points.

• Westmont College freshman, Becky Collier, finished 5th in the Junior Heptathlon with a personal best 4,988 points.

• 2012 UCSB graduate, Derek Masterson, finished 9th in the decathlon with 7,423 points.

• 2012 UCSB graduate, Ryan Martin, finished 5th in the second heat of the 800m semifinals, but advanced to Sunday’s final by post-race petition.

• Tommy Schmitz finished 11th in the first heat of the 1500m semifinals and did not advance to Saturday’s finals.