Track and Field Champions Crowned In Northridge
The two longest tenured head coaches in the conference – Cal State Fullerton's John Elders and Long Beach State's Andy Sythe – celebrated team championships as the Big West Track and Field Championships concluded Saturday at the CSUN Track and Field Complex.
Elders, in his 30th season at the helm of the Titans, guided his men's squad to a second consecutive championship. Cal State Fullerton scored 154 points to outdistance second place Long Beach State (136.5) and third place UC Davis (121). UC Santa Barbara finished fourth (112.5 points), followed by host CSUN (108), Cal Poly (100), UC Irvine (44) and UC Riverside (43).
In his 29th year as head coach at Long Beach State, Sythe captured his first women's team championship as his squad made a late run to overtake UC Santa Barbara. The Beach tallied 122 points, and overtook the Gauchos which finished with 120. CSUN finished in third with 101 points, CSF was fourth with 98, and Cal Poly came in fifth with 95. UC Irvine placed sixth with 90 points, and UC Riverside (75), UC Davis (73) and Hawai‘i rounded out the standings.
The last two competitions on the women's side have yielded the second and third-smallest margins of victory in Big West history. CSUN won the 2017 meet by 1.3 points.
After going through a 10-year period in which the Titans finished no higher than fifth in the men's meet, Elders has his program rolling.
The Titans began the day in the 4x100 meter relay, winning the event for the third straight year. The foursome of Rasaun House, Thaddeus Smith, Luis Matos and Marcel Espinoza clocked 40.20 seconds.
Smith returned later in the 100 meters to win in 10.46 seconds, just off his career-best mark of 10.44.
Senior Mason Guzman-Sanchez became the first Titan since 2000 to win the 100 meter hurdles as he finished with a time of 14.23.
The Titans displayed their overall depth in the sprints, scoring double-digit points in the 200 meters (19), 100 meters (18), 110 meter hurdles (15) and 4x100 relay (10). They also got big contributions in the 3,000 meter steeplechase and javelin with 14 points apiece.
Long Beach State has won 10 men's titles – seven under the tutelage of Sythe – but the women had finished no better than third at the conference meet.
That all changed Saturday.
The Beach rallied with four first-place finishes and racked up huge points in the sprints.
The 4x100 meter relay team posted a victory in a school record 44.63, within range of the conference meet record of 44.43. It was LBSU's first win in the event since 2005.
Sophomore Anaya Alexander ran a career-best 53.79 in the 400 meters to become the first Beach athlete to ever win the event at the conference meet. She also was just the second in school history to break 54 seconds - and the first since 1982.
Junior Courtne' Davis won the 200 meters for the second time in her career, finishing in 23.73.
The 4x400 meter relay team came up with a key victory in the final track event. Trailing UC Santa Barbara in the standings with two events still unfinished, the Beach women of Shalee Reynolds, Azaria Hill, Shyann Reynolds and Alexander captured gold in 3:40.74. It was the first time in school history LBSU won the event.
In addition to the two wins in the relay events, LBSU collected 19 points apiece in the 100 and 200 meters, and 16 in the 400 meters. The team also earned 10 points in the high jump.
Those points also helped put LBSU over the hump and Bria Palmer finished third (5-09.25) and Diana Acholonu (5-07.25) fifth for the combined total of 10. UCSB held an eight point lead on the Beach going down the stretch.
A host of other accomplishments occurred over the course of the meet. They included the following:
• CSUN senior Daniel Swarbrick won the men's discus for the third straight year. He won with a throw of 174-09, becoming the second Matador to win three straight golds. Derek Cooper (2008-10) was the first.
• UC Santa Barbara senior Jenna Hinkle was a double champion in the 1,500 and 5,000 meters. She won the 1,500 for the second straight year, finishing in 4:28.56. She secured gold in the 5,000 in 16:47.43.
• Cal Poly senior Swarnjit Boyal won his second gold of the meet. After earning the 10,000 meter title on Friday, he returned to win the 5,000 meters on Saturday in 14:44.24 as a Mustang won that event for the sixth straight year.
• UC Davis senior Brian Thomas ran a school record 46.47 in the men's 400 meters to earn first place.
• UC Irvine senior Persis William-Mensah became the first Anteater since 1996 to win the women's 100 meters and she crossed the line in 11.57 seconds.
• Cal State Fullerton sophomore Samantha Huerta went down in history as the first Titan to garner gold in the women's 800 meters. She clocked 2:07.63 and nearly beat her own school record time.
• UC Santa Barbara junior Hope Bender won the women's 400 meter hurdles for the second straight year. She blazed to a school record 58.02 for the victory.
• UC Davis senior Marc Toney was the first individual in school history to notch gold in the men's pole vault. He cleared 17-03.75.
• Hawai‘i sophomore Lily Lowe won the women's high jump with a top mark of 6-00.50, tying for the sixth-best distance in the nation this year.
Bender was named Big West Women's Athlete of the Meet by the head coaches. She earned first-place finishes in the heptathlon and 400 meter hurdles, and was third in the 100 meter hurdles.
Kyle Clancy of UC Davis was tabbed Big West Men's Athlete of the Meet. He topped all the competition in the decathlon and high jump, and was fifth in the 110 meter hurdles.