SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - UC Santa Barbara Track and Field will be on high alert this week as they face off against five of the ten other Big West Conference schools in a two day bout at the Titan Track Complex for the Fullerton Spring Invite. Along with meet hosts Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State, UC Irvine, Hawaii, and Cal State Bakersfield will all be in attendance for the most prolific Big West centric competition before the conference championships in May. The meet itself will have a 10-8-6-4-2-1 scoring system in place for both individual and relay events, with both Thursday and Friday's events beginning at 10:30 am PST.
"This meet is always one of the highlights of our schedule," said Director and Head Coach Cody Fleming. "This year the Challenge Cup added Hawaii and Cal State Bakersfield, which turned it into the Fullerton Spring Invite. Every event is loaded. It's set up to be a great meet."
Gauchos to Watch
Senior Jarett Chinn is slated for just the 1500m this meet after completing the 800m/1500m two day double at the Sound Running Invite and the Mustang Quad Meet last week. He set a personal best of 3:52.28 en route to winning the 1500m and will have some strong competition this time with the two top returners from the 2019 conference meet with Fullerton's Sam Ayala and Jake Smith, both of whom finished in the top five that year.
Senior Chase Tarr will return to the javelin after a good week's rest from competition. Chase has been relatively unchallenged this season outside of collegiate competitors, but he'll have at least one opposing force in the like's of UC Irvine's Jack Gifford, the 2019 Big West Conference third place finisher in this event. A 67.37m/221' 0" at his best, Gifford has yet to throw past 62 meters this meter compared to Tarr who's been hurling javelins past the 60 meter mark on a whim. On paper he'll be the second seed, but performance wise this season Tarr is looking to be the favorite.
Senior George Harris and sophomore Jared Freeman have enjoyed their friendly back and forth in the discus in the last few meets, but they'll need to be at their best against the juggernauts of Long Beach State, including 2019 conference champion Charlie Vernoy, third place finisher Sebastian Coleman, and junior college transfer Alec Jones who's currently ranked second in the conference in the discus and first in the hammer throw. Harris, who finished fifth in that 2019 championship meet, will have plenty of investment this time around taking on the Long Beach crew for the first time in almost two years.
Junior Glenn Mbamo and sophomore Anthony Victa were putting together excellent attempts in last week's triple jump where they both set season bests of 14.47m/47' 6.25" and 14.29m/46' 10.5" respectively. With those two currently ranked fifth and seventh in the conference, they'll have their hands full with Cal State Fullerton's Juwan Searles who's ranked third in the conference and Long Beach State's Micqwuan Wright who's the top seed on paper but has yet to compete this season.
Senior Tori Palma will have high expectations sitting as the first seed for the shot put and second for the hammer throw going into this meet. She's well clear of the field for the shot and is currently leading the conference in the hammer, but she'll have some pushback from UC Irvine's Brianna Villanueva, the top seed and third place finisher in that event at the 2019 conference championships. Sinai Fatafehi of Cal State Fullerton will also be in the mix with her sixth place credentials from the 2019 championships to go along with her home field advantage come Thursday.
Junior Gabi Sanchez should be right behind Palma in the shot put as she sits as the second seed going into the meet, but the real test will be in the discus where she'll encounter Fullerton's Bertha Sola and Irvine's Villanueva once more. The two both finished just ahead of Sanchez in second and third at the Big West Championships in 2019 to deny her a podium finish, so this will be a good indicator for her personally with the championship meet just over a month away.
Sophomore Mariana Lanz dropped some huge wind aided marks last Saturday in the 200m and the triple jump, both of which rank her third and fourth respectively in the conference since wind assisted performances are considered for the rankings. She'll be opting for the 400m instead this meet along with the triple jump, but she's currently seeded second in both for the meet so an opportunity to take away an individual victory is within reach for the underclassman.
Lastly, Senior Maddie Meade has made quite a name for herself recently in the 800m with her 2:08.94 clocking last week at the Quad Meet, a time that puts her at seventh on the UCSB All-Time Performance List for that event. She'll be moving back up to the 1500m for the Spring Classic but will be facing some of the best Cal State Fullerton has to offer with Alyssa Block, Samantha Huerta, and Trinity Ruelas. On paper she's seeded behind the trio who'll be running on their home track, but Meade could be a surprise in the longer distance with how she's been performing as of late.