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Track & Field

Four Schools Touted On Track And Field Honors Roll



2018 Track and Field Awards Release

Big West champions Cal State Fullerton and Long Beach State stood among the four schools recognized in the 2018 Big West Track and Field awards, announced today via a vote of the conference’s nine head coaches.

LBSU snatched three of the eight major Big West awards, with Jason Smith collecting Men’s Field Athlete of the Year honors, Andy Sythe lauded as Women’s Coach of the Year and Shalee Reynolds designated the Women’s Freshman of the Year.  CSF received two premier honors as Rasaun House was tabbed Men’s Freshman of the Year, while mentor John Elders earned the Men’s Coach of the Year nod.  UC Santa Barbara also grabbed two primary awards as Jenna Hinkle and Hope Bender were selected Women’s Track Athlete of the Year and Women’s Field Athlete of the Year, respectively.  Cal Poly distance runner Swarnjit Boyal was named the Men’s Track Athlete of the Year.

altSwarnjit Boyal (Yuba City, Calif./River Valley HS) joined a long list of Cal Poly distance runners to have earned Men’s Track Athlete of the Year status.  He followed in the footsteps of Ryan Moorcroft (2004), Ben Bruce (2005), Luke Llamas (2006) and Chris Frias (2014).  Boyal was the 10th individual in Big West history – and the third from Cal Poly – to double as 5,000 and 10,000 meter champion at the conference meet.  The senior won the 5,000 meters in a photo finish time of 14:44.24, less than a second ahead of the next two pursuers.  In the 10,000, Boyal won his second straight gold, clocking 33:57.69 to lead a procession with three other Mustangs who all finished within three seconds of him.  Boyal became the first Big West athlete to repeat as 10,000 champion since Toby Conley of Utah State in 1995 and 1996.  Boyal also earned Big West Track Athlete of the Week honors on April 3 after posting the No. 5 mark in school history with a career-best time of 29:05.54 at the Stanford Invitational.  That time currently ranks him No. 22 nationally.

altJenna Hinkle (Cottonwood, Calif./West Valley HS) became the fourth UC Santa Barbara representative of Women’s Track Athlete of the Year accolades.  Previous recipients include Kylie McCuen (2005), Stephanie Rothstein (2006, 2007) and Tori Tsolis (2016).  Hinkle accomplished a first time feat in Big West meet history – winning gold in both the 1,500 and 5,000 meter races.  She also stood on the medal stand in a third race, the 800 meters, after placing second in a time of 2:08.97.  Hinkle’s double gold achievement nearly helped the Gauchos to a second place finish at the conference championships.  She won the 1,500 meters for the second straight year – the first Gaucho to become a two-time champion in that event – posting a time of 4:28.56.  The senior made a last lap push in the 5,000 meters to take control and win in 16:47.43.  Hinkle ran season-bests in the 800 (2:08.01) and 1,500 (4:19.11) earlier this season at the Aztec Invitational to earn Big West Women’s Track Athlete of the Week honors.

altJason Smith (San Bruno, Calif./Archbishop Riordan HS) continued the Long Beach State stranglehold on Men’s Field Athlete of the Year plaques.  A Beach representative has won the award for the fourth year in a row, and eight times since 2003.  Smith displayed his versatility at the Big West meet scoring points for this team in three events – the high jump, long jump and triple jump.  He finished second in the long jump with a career-best leap of 25-00.75, and tied for second in the high jump (6-09.00) for his second silver medal of the meet.  Smith then placed fifth in the triple jump, clearing 50 feet for the first time in his career with a mark of 50-01.75. The sophomore ranks in the top six on the Big West Performance List with career-best performances in all three events this season.  He had a career-best mark of 6-11 in the high jump (No. 2 Big West) on March 31 at the Sacramento State MONDO Team Challenge.  In the triple jump, his 50-foot plus leap at the conference meet is No. 6 overall.  In addition, Smith ranks No. 3 league-wide in the long jump thanks to his huge effort at the Big West meet.  Smith is the second straight member of the Beach to earn Freshman of the Year honors (2017) followed by Field Athlete of the Year acclaim, joining teammate Kemonie Briggs.

altHope Bender (Newport Beach, Calif./Newport Harbor HS) notched the third Women’s Field Athlete of the Year honor from UC Santa Barbara, following Amy Haapanen (2007) and Barbara Nwaba (2012).  Bender garnered Big West Women’s Athlete of the Meet recognition as she collected 26 points on her own and contributed to six more as a member of the third place 4x400 relay team.  Bender began the Big West meet in the multi-events competition as the heptathlon winner.  The junior scored 5,561 points, the fifth-highest winning total in conference history, becoming the second from UCSB (Olympian Barbara Nwaba) to win.  Bender won the 100 meter hurdles, shot put and 200 meters to help her to the top of the heptathlon medal stand.  She resumed competition the following weekend and claimed gold in the 400 meter hurdles for the second year in a row.  Bender finished in a school-record 58.02 seconds, the fastest performance at the Big West meet since Cal Poly’s LeBren Martin set the record of 57.69 in 2003.  Bender broke the previous UCSB record of 58.32 established by Amanda Rodriguez in 2013.  She also picked up six more points with a third-place finish in the 100 meter hurdles, posting a time of 13.73 seconds.  Bender also earned a Big West Women’s Track Athlete of the Week citation following first-place showings in both hurdles races at the Big West Challenge.

altThe selection of Rasaun House (Perris, Calif./Rancho Verde HS) as Men’s Freshman of the Year is a first for the Cal State Fullerton program since the award began in 2005.  The sprinter played a key role in helping the Titans to their second straight Big West championship.  House competed in four events, scoring 13 individual points and contributing to 15 more as a member of both relay teams.  He finished in second place with a time of 21.46 seconds in the 200 meters.  In the 100 meter dash, he grabbed fourth place in 10.65.  House ran the leadoff leg on the victorious 4x100 relay team that posted a season-best time of 40.20 for 10 more points.  He also led off on the 4x400 relay squad, which placed fourth in 3:15.71.  House made an immediate impact in his collegiate debut with three second-place finishes at the Riverside City College Quad Meet, leading to his selection as Big West Men’s Track Athlete of the Week.  He ran a career-best 10.44 in his 100 meter debut which is tied for the No. 3 mark in the Big West this season.

altShalee Reynolds (Glendora, Calif./Glendora HS) claimed Long Beach State’s second Women’s Freshman of the Year honor in three seasons – and the program’s third overall.  Phylicia Johnson (2008) and current Beach teammate Courtne’ Davis preceded Reynolds.  Reynolds picked up crucial points in LBSU’s run to its first Big West women’s title and a narrow two-point margin of victory over UC Santa Barbara.  Reynolds clocked a personal-best 59.02 seconds to finish second in the 400 meter hurdles.  That time landed Reynolds at No. 5 on the school’s all-time performance list.  Joining ranks with sister Shyann, Azaria Hill and Anaya Alexander, Reynolds also helped the Beach claim gold in the meet’s final track event – the 4x400 relay.  The quartet won by nearly three full seconds in a time of 3:40.74 – good for No. 3 all-time in the school record book.  Reynolds ranks No. 34 in the NCAA West Region with her 400 meter hurdles time in the conference finals.

altJohn Elders repeated as Men’s Coach of the Year while leading his Cal State Fullerton program to a second consecutive Big West championship.  In his 30th year, the school’s longest-tenured head coach oversaw the victory at the Matador Track & Field Complex as his squad collected 154 points – 21 more than the 2017 champions.  He coached his team to three Big West event victories – the 4x100 relay, Mason Guzman-Sanchez in the 110 meter hurdles and Thaddeus Smith in the 100 meter dash.  The Titans have won the 4x100 relay race for three straight years after not taking first place in any of the previous 46 meets.  In winning the overall team title, the strong depth Elders built was on display as the team scored the lion’s share of its points with five second place and four third place finishes.  His troops also collected nine Big West Athlete of the Week awards this season.

altAndy Sythe had won seven Men’s Coach of the Year awards as the architect of a dominant Long Beach State program.  He never had earned a Women’s Coach of the Year honor until 2018.  Unable to finish any higher than third at the conference meet in previous years, Sythe’s women’s program broke through this season with an inaugural team title.  LBSU won the crown by the third-smallest margin of victory in meet history – two points – scoring 122 to UC Santa Barbara’s 120.  The Beach rallied with four first-place finishes, including both relay races.  Anaya Alexander ran a career-best 53.79 to become the first LBSU individual to win the 400 meters at the Big West meet.  In addition, Courtne’ Davis captured the second 200 meter gold of her career.  Sythe’s 4x100 relay quartet blazed to victory in a school record 44.63 seconds, just missing the conference meet record of 44.43.  It was LBSU’s first win in the event since 2005.  The 4x400 relay team gave LBSU the final 10 points needed to overtake UCSB for the title, winning the race at the Big West meet for the first time in school history in 3:40.74.  All told, Sythe’s sprinters accounted for 87 team points.

The honorees turn their attention next to the NCAA West Preliminary regional meet May 24-26 at Hornet Stadium in Sacramento, Calif.  The meet will feature the top-48 student-athletes in each event west of the Mississippi River.


Swarnjit Boyal, Cal Poly  Jenna Hinkle, UC Santa Barbara
Jason Smith, Long Beach State Hope Bender, UC Santa Barbara
Rasaun House, Cal State Fullerton Shalee Reynolds, Long Beach State
John Elders, Cal State Fullerton Andy Sythe, Long Beach State