SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Track and Field will be travelling down to Irvine this Friday to compete at the Annual Big West Challenge Cup against Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, and hosts UC Irvine who will be hosting the meet for the first time since 2014 at Anteater Stadium. The Challenge Cup enters its 25th rendition this year and will be the premier conference head to head with 4 of the 9 Big West schools competing against each other in a championship style format. Scoring for the meet will follow a 10-8-6-5-4-3-2-1 point format with 2 athletes per school counting per event. The meet will commence starting with field events at 2 p.m. with the men's hammer throw, while track events will get underway at 6 p.m. with the women's 4x100m relay.
Last year's Challenge Cup had the Gaucho women taking the meet in a nail biter against powerhouse Long Beach State 190-182.5 with the men taking 3rd behind Long Beach State and Cal State Fullerton. The women also took the team title back in 2016, so the hopes of a 3-peat will be on their minds come Friday.
Ticket prices for the meet will be $10 for adults and 5$ for those 17 and under. There will also be concessions available within the stadium.
The closest structures to the track can be found at the Mesa Parking Structure and Lot 14A off of Mesa Road and University Drive by the baseball stadium. An all day general pass is priced at $10. More information can be found here.
Gauchos to Watch
SR Patrick Bourke comes off two excellent performances at the 1500 and the full mile from the past two weeks at San Diego and UCLA (3:47.82 and 4:05.28 respectively), but he'll be dropping down in distance this Friday to test the waters in the 800m. He has yet to compete in the 800m in a Gaucho uniform, so it'll be interesting to see how he fares in the 2 lap distance.
SR Sike Azu-Irondi has been on a hot streak lately in the 100m culminating in a 10.57 last week, so he'll be looking to inch even closer to possibly breaking his school record of 10.55.
SR Myles McDonald returned to racing last week after sitting out for the majority of March, so he will be prime to throw down a mark in his signature event the 400m hurdles.
SO Christopher Ruggles recently set another personal best in the shot put to slot himself to 6th on the descending order list for the Big West conference in that respective event. Some stiff competition could propel him even higher if he can take advantage.
JR Kordell Hampton was able to improve on his personal best in the hammer throw last week to 189' 6". Along with his dominance in the discus so far this year, Kordell could provide some key points on the men's side if he can take on the double.
SO Katie Camarena goes into this meet fresh off 2 personal bests in the 800m and the 1500m from the UCLA Invitational, and she will be tackling the double once again, this time with merely an hour between each event instead of a full day.
SO Celeste Wilson will also be attempting a distance double at this meet as well with the 3000m Steeplechase and the flat 3000m. She just put up a 10:38.72 last Friday to move up to No. 6 on the all-time list, so she could be pivotal in helping the overall team score.
JR Hope Bender will be tackling the 100m hurdles and 400m hurdles at the Challenge Cup after coming within .03 seconds of the 100m hurdles school record at UCLA. She is also scheduled to possibly run the 100m as well.
JR Shamara Carney and SR Morgan Simpson set new personal bests last week in the 400m and are looking to be the main scorers for that event. With 3 athletes from Long Beach State right in their wheelhouse, this event could be a barn burner.
JR Alivia Schlueter recently put up her 2nd best mark in the triple jump last week at UCLA with a jump of 39' 3 ¾". This could be the start of some newfound momentum and perhaps some solid points if she can post up something similar on Friday.
Lastly, SR Kayla Thayer has been on a tear recently, setting new personal bests in the shot put as well as the hammer throw so far this year, and she currently ranked within the top 8 of the descending order lists for 3 different throwing events (shot put, discus, hammer) in the conference. With this in mind, she'll be set to take up a key scoring role with all 3 events on her plate at the Challenge Cup.