Senior Luke Llamas was named Big West male track athlete of the year by the Big West, while Joe Gatel was named men’s freshman of the year for their outstanding 2006 performances.

Llamas, a regional qualifier in three events including the 1,500 meter, 3,000 steeplechase, 5,000, won conference championships in both the steeplechase and 5,000 in this years conference championships. The Canyon Country native, who also helped the men’s cross country team win a conference championship this season, ran the fourth fastest time in Mustang history in the steeplechase event on April 1 with a time of 8:45.34. He will compete in the steeplechase at the regional championships in Provo, Utah May 26-27.

Gatel received the men’s freshman of the year award for his accomplishments in the middle distance events. The Huntington Beach native posted a seventh place finish at the Big West Championships with a time of 3:54.20 in the 1,500. Earlier in the season he ran a regional-qualifying mark of 3:46.92. Gatel was the only freshman to earn Big West male track athlete of the week honors this season. Gatel is also a vital part to the conference champion cross country team.

Men’s field athlete of the year went to Chris Richardson of Long Beach State, while head coach of the 49ers Andy Sythe, took coach of the year honors for the men. Cal State Northridge nearly swept all of the awards on the women’s side as LaShanna Verdon, was named woman field athlete of the year, Jere’ Summers, was named freshman of the year and Don Strametz was named coach of the year. UC Santa Barbara’s Stephanie Rothstein took female track athlete of the year.

The men’s track and field team will be represented in the NCAA West Regionals by Llamas in the steeplechase, Aris Borjas in the javelin, Joe Gatel in the 1,500, Adrian Ruark in the pole vault, Philip Reid in the 1,500 and Chris White in the shot put. The women will bring Deidre Byrne in the 1500, Caitlin Schields in the triple jump and Willimena Cisco in the 100 meter hurdles.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.