May 17, 2014
DAVIS, Calif. - The UC Davis women flooded the winner's podium with eight individual titles on Saturday on its way to its third straight Big West Track and Field Championship while the men won four events to take third in their title run at Woody Wilson Track.
The women scored 141 points during Saturday's meet to finish with 194 and beat Cal State Northridge which was second with 183.33. UC Irvine (83 pts) took third while Long Beach State (73.5) was fourth.
UC Davis' men's team answered last year's eighth-place showing with a stirring performance on its home track, scoring 106 points on Saturday to total 133 for the championship. Long Beach State (218.5) successfully defended its 2013 title while Cal Poly (144.5) was second.
Standout sprinter Ashley Marshall led the victory parade for UC Davis by winning the 100-meter (11.36 seconds) and 200-meter (23.85) dashes for the second consecutive year. Raquel Lambdin (4:23.39) captured the 1,500 for the second straight year, Cekarri Nixon won the 400 (53.55) and Shanie Landen (2:08.03) led a 1-2 Aggie finish in the 800.
Kellie Grigg (59.58) rallied down the stretch to take the 400 hurdles, Alycia Cridebring (17:11.32) led a dominant showing by UC Davis in the 5,000, and Catherine Li (41-1.50) set a school record while winning the triple jump.
"What we saw these last two days was the women doing what we asked both teams to do and that was to find a way," said head coach Drew Wartenburg. "Whether it was find a way to a final, find a way on to the podium (as a top-three placer) or find a way to win an event.
"We had some people step up that we expected to in certain places," he added, "and the beauty of a meet like this are the surprises of women like Holly Tokar (pole vault) and Catherine Li winning events when on paper they're not supposed to do that."
Marcus Johnson was a part of two titles for the Aggie men, opening his day by running a leg on UC Davis' first-ever Big West championship (40.82) in the 4x100 while also winning the 100 (10.36, wind-aided) later. Nathan Strum (1:50.20) won the 800 and Karl Moran had a big finish to take the 400 hurdles (52.13).
UC Davis moved from third place into second place in the men's standings before Cal Poly used a big showing in the 5,000 to take over the runner-up spot. Still, it was a great showing for the Aggies in front of the home crowd.
"One of the goals was scoring more than 100 points than we did last year," Wartenburg said. "Being in the hunt, for a little bit, for second place was new life for the men. It's a more positive culture and there's a much more shared ethic of everybody pulling together.
"Today was a great day for the men and an indication of program strength, which is really what we're all about," he added.
Li got the momentum rolling for the women early on with her stirring win in the triple jump. She entered the meet with a personal-best mark of 39-9.25 from last year's Big West Championship but went more than a foot past that when she jumped 41-1.5 on her second attempt Saturday. That broke the school record of 40-8.75 set by Jade Myles in 2006.
There were 10 events contested on the track on Saturday afternoon with UC Davis winning seven of them, allowing for a steady stream of Aggies interviewed post-race by Fox Sports Prime Ticket which televised the event.
Lambdin, Cridebring and Erika Barr teamed to give UC Davis 20 points in the 1,500. Lambdin and Cridebring matched their 1-3 finish from a year ago while Cridebring - the 2012 conference champion in the event - posted her fourth top-three finish in the event during her career.
The Aggies then rattled off five straight track wins with Nixon winning the 400 after finishing third last year, and Marshall challenging her meet record of 11.34 in the 100 from 2013. Landen and Lambdin then grabbed the top two spots in the 800 with Landen leading virtually from start-to-finish.
UC Davis and Northridge were engaged in a close battle throughout the day with the Aggies' lead at 129-121.33 after the 800. Grigg then added 10 points with a big come-from-behind finish in the 400 hurdles, using a strong kick to beat Paige Bushnell of UC Irvine, who was second in 1:00.25.
The momentum kept on rolling in an unbelievable women's 200 that saw the top three finishers separated by just .01. Marshall trailed down the homestretch but finished strong and lunged across the finish line before falling. She was timed in 23.85 while Marie Veale of Northridge and Janaya Shorty of Cal State Fullerton were separated by three-thousandths of a second in the next two spots.
It was the second straight year that Marshall won both the 100 and 200.
"I think sometimes people can get lulled into complacency thinking that when Ashley takes to the track she's going to win," said Wartenburg. "Seeing her dive quite literally across the line in the 200 today is an indication that there's not only a talent there but a work ethic and a drive."
Cridebring was third in the 5,000 two years ago and then scratched out of the event last year after it was clear UC Davis was going to win the team title. This year, she and 10,000 winner Christine Hoffman traded the lead in the 5K before crossing the line within two seconds of each other and 10 seconds in front of Cal Poly's Rachel Bush who was third.
Freshman Hannah Kirkegaard then took fourth, helping the Aggies tally 23 points in the event and open a wide enough lead on Northridge to clinch the title.
"Being able to win almost every flat event on the track and a hurdles race (is great)," Wartenburg said. "It's just so nice to spread the wealth."
The Aggie men opened their day with an exciting win in the 4x100 relay as Sava Boyadjiev, Johnson, Kaio Sena and Basil Okoroike were perfect around the track to beat Cal Poly (40.99) and Long Beach State (41.00) across the line. UC Davis had the fastest time in the conference heading into the race, thanks to a school-record 40.27 two weeks ago against Sacramento State, and lived up to their top seed.
UC Davis had a big showing in the 1,500, paced by Strum's close win over Shyan Vaziri of UC Santa Barbara, who was a close second in 3:46.62. Trevor Halsted was third, Jordan Rushing was fifth and freshman Austin Goins took seventh as the Aggies picked up 22 points in the race.
The Aggies added another 16 points in the 100 just two races later on the heels of Johnson's blazing win. Johnson, who began his career at UC Davis three years ago before spending the last two years at Santa Monica City College, returned to the Aggies this season and has made his mark throughout the sprints.
He beat 200-meter champion Jamison Jordan of Cal Poly by just .05 and gave the Aggies another big lift. Sena was fifth and Boyadjiev took seventh.
"Marcus is a great spark," said Wartenburg. "We've talked about his attitude on and off the track throughout the season and he brings an infectious attitude that's been a good catalyst for us."
Moran continued the Aggie wins with a strong finish that saw him surge past Michael Kroger (52.00) of UC Riverside and Cameron Vaca (52.94) of UC Irvine and win in 51.55. Johnson and Boyadjiev were fourth and fifth, respectively, in the 200.
Marc Toney helped lead the field event crew for UC Davis on Saturday, going 16-0.75 in the pole vault and bring home fourth-place points. Okoroike was fifth in the triple jump.
The Big West Track and Field Championship was being held at UC Davis for the first time.
UC Davis will return to competition in two weeks with the NCAA West Region Prelim Meet at the University of Arkansas.
Aggies host All-Comers
Track & Field Meet on Jan. 28