A shorthanded Cal Poly men’s and women’s track and field squad lost dual meets to Central Coast rival UC Santa Barbara on Saturday.
However, warm weather and a competitive atmosphere contributed to several top-notch performances.
Three Mustang men, including Chris White (shot put), Joe Gatel (1500) and Luke Llamas (1500) qualified for the NCAA Regionals held in Provo, Utah, May 26-27 due to strong performances, while Willamena Cisco narrowly missed a qualifying time in 100 hurdles.
White, also a defensive tackle on the Mustang’s football team, shattered his personal best throw by nearly four inches as he won the shot put event with a final throw of 55-9. His old mark was 51-11.75. White’s career best throw is the ninth best in Mustang history, right above teammate Leighton Heape who is redshirting in 2006.
Gatel, who also ran on the three-time Big West champion cross-country team, shaved nine seconds off his personal best time in the 1500-meter, winning the event in a time of 3:46.92. Llamas came in right behind Gatel in the 1,500, clocking out at 3:47.49.
Phil Reid also had a strong race in the 1,500, clocking a 3:48, a personal best. Reid, who sat out the 2005 season due to a stress fracture in his femur, combined with Gatel and Llamas for the top three times in the Big West this year.
Llamas moved down to the 1500 from his normal event, the 3,000 steeplechase, where his best time (8:54.34) ranks him second in the West Region, seven seconds behind Josh McAdams of BYU. McAdams is currently ranked No. 2 in the nation while Llamas sits at No. 5.
Two-time Big West women’s 100-meter hurdles champion, Cisco, had a strong day at Santa Barbara, blazing across the track in a meet best time of 13.96, just shy of the regional qualifying time of 13.92.
Cisco will have one meet left to hit her regional qualifying mark. The senior has struggled with injuries this season, but expects to hit the standard at the Big West Championships on May 12-13.
Cassie Atkinson also had a strong performance for Cal Poly in the women’s 800-meter as the sophomore and ran a season best time of 2:11.75, giving her the second best time in the Big West in the event this year.
Troy Swier was the lone Mustang running at the Stanford Cardinal Invite. The sophomore clocked a 14:15.74 in the 5,000-meter, just off of the regional qualifying standard of 14:10. Swier qualified for regional competition in the event a year ago.
Also competing at the Stanford Cardinal Invite was former Cal Poly standout Ben Bruce. The Cal Poly 5000 record-holder was second in the 3000 steeplechase in a personal best 8:32.68.
Several athletes will compete at the Modesto Relays this weekend in a last-minute effort to hit conference and regional qualifying times. The rest of the team will rest up and travel to Cal State Northridge for the Big West Championships on April 12-13.