2004 UCSB Men's Track & Field Preview
The UCSB Men's Track & Field team will look to improve in 2004 on last season's 6th place effort at the Big West Championships. The Gauchos return 10 scorers from the 2003 squad, two of which were All-Conference and three more who qualified for the NCAA West Regional Championship. The men were strong in multi-team meets last year, winning the Fullerton 5-way, the All-Cal Cup, and finishing second at the Big West Challenge Cup, and hope to continue that success in '04 beginning with their season opener against CMS and Westmont on February 21st. The following is a season preview including the top returnees and newcomers by event area:
The sprint group will look to fifth year senior Nohel Corral for leadership in '04. Corral has qualified for the Big West 400m final three times, finishing 4th last season, and ran the third leg on the Gauchos 2nd place 4x400m relay at the conference meet. Nohel posted a personal best 47.59 (#6 All-time UCSB) in '04 and also ranks in the UCSB top ten at 100m and 200m. Sophomore Ryan Donnelly also returns. Donnelly was the team's top 100m runner last year, and came up big in both relays at Big West anchoring the 4x100 to a season best 41.54 5th place, and splitting a 48 second leg in the 4x400 that finished second in 3:12.82.
First year Sprint and Jump Coach Matt Lea will have five talented freshmen to work with in 2004. Nick Cunningham (Monterey HS) qualified for the 2003 CA HS State Meet in the 100m (10.90) and 200m (21.52), and won the 2003 MBAL League Championships at 100m, 200m, and 400m (48.78). Justin Morgan from Reno, NV and Phil Dawkins from Elk Grove HS will also add depth in the sprints. Bret Linas (Santa Margarita HS) and Nino Kolyouthapong (California HS) will look to contribute in the hurdles. Linas ran the third leg on Santa Margarita's 4x400 that finished 6th at the '03 CA HS State Meet.
Senior Mark Martello was a regional qualifier in the pole vault (16' 0.75", #6 All-time UCSB) last year and finished 6th at Big West. The Gauchos return three long jumpers who surpassed 23 feet in '03. Donnelly (23' 5.5") finished 7th at Big West in '04 and senior Preston Biller (23' 5.5") took 9th at last season's conference meet and set a lifetime best 46' 3.25" in the triple jump last year. Sophomore Isaac Herrera (23' 3.5") also qualified for the '03 Big West meet in long jump.
Hunter Orahood transfers to UCSB from Saddleback College, where he cleared 6' 8" in the high jump and finished 10th at the '03 CA JC State Meet.
A more experienced and improving throws crew returns for Santa Barbara in 2004. Junior Ryan Lockner recorded the farthest mark in the shot put by a Gaucho in the past 15 years (#7 All-time UCSB) with a personal best throw of 51' 11.25" at the '03 OXY Invitational. Sophomore Eugene Bradley posted impressive marks in his first collegiate season, qualifying for Big West in the shot (47' 7"), disc (146' 5"), and hammer (164' 6" - 10th), in addition Bradley represented UCSB at the US Junior Nationals in the hammer. Senior Richie Alpers (hammer and shot) will provide veteran leadership and sophomores Matt Mettler (hammer, discus) and Tyler Smith (hammer) also return after gaining Big West experience in '03.
Freshman Jeff Stewart (Chaminade HS) and Reif Lawson (Granite Bay HS) have the talent to make an impact in their first year in the program. Stewart threw the shot 54' 5" in HS, while Lawson tossed the HS discus 165' 4", both will also train for the hammer under third year throws and high jump Coach John Dagata.
Gaucho Distance Coach Pete Dolan returns a wealth of talent from 800m to 10,000m. The 800m could be Santa Barbara's deepest event with the return of junior Ben Armel (1:48.70), the Big West 800m champion in '02, along with sophomore Tetlo Emmen (1:50.45, 3rd Big West '03), junior Ryan McGinnis (1:52.81, 5th Big West '03) and senior DJ Ozan (1:52.05). All-Conference 5000m runner, senior Chris White (3:54.19/14:37.43) and junior Jeff Gardina (3:55.55/14:37.90), an All-Conference and NCAA qualifier in cross country last fall are both threats to claim All-Conference honors in the 5k or 10k at the '04 Big West meet in Irvine. Adding to the distance depth are fifth-year seniors Pablo Gallegos (3:54.00/14:37.51) and David Monico (3:54.14/14:38.60) who return after red-shirt seasons in 2003. Sophomore Scott McConville (3:49.24 #4 All-time UCSB) who finished 5th in the 1500m at Big West in '03, and junior Scott Brandos (9:06.14, #8 All-time UCSB) who took 8th in the steeple, both qualified for the NCAA Regional Championship last year.
UCSB adds freshman Mike Chavez (Esperanza HS, Anahiem CA) who finished 6th in the '03 CA HS State Meet at 1600m (4:12.46) and has covered 3200m in 9:09.52. Chavez made a solid transition to NCAA level cross country in the fall as a top seven runner for the Gauchos at the Pre-National, Big West and Regional Championship Meets.