Multiple Programs Record First Honors in Track And Field Major Awards
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The 2012 Big West track and field awards were announced today with five different schools represented among the honorees.
The men’s awards were divided up between three different institutions. UC Irvine’s Charles Jock led the way as he received Big West Track Athlete of the Year honors for the third time. Long Beach State’s Ben Woodruff, the conference’s two-time javelin champion, claimed Field Athlete of the Year acclaim for Long Beach State. Jahmani Lockett of Long Beach State and UC Santa Barbara’s Shyan Vaziri were named Co-Freshmen of the Year while Coach of the Year Pete Dolan guided UC Santa Barbara to its first conference meet championship in school history.
The women’s honors were split primarily between the top two conference meet finishers in UC Davis and UC Santa Barbara in a series of firsts for both programs. Aggie senior Sarah Sumpter was awarded the program’s first Big West Track Athlete of the Year after setting two meet records under the guidance of Drew Wartenburg, who shared Coach of the Year honors with UCSB’s Dolan. The 2012 women’s heptathlon champion, UC Santa Barbara’s Barbara Nwaba, claimed Women’s Field Athlete of the Year. Rounding out the top honorees was Cal State Fullerton’s Morgan Thompson, who took home Women’s Freshman of the Year accolades.
Jock is the first Anteater to garner a Big West major award three times in a career, while all in consecutive seasons. Jock outdueled his closest rival, UC Santa Barbara’s Ryan Martin, in the 800 meters at the Big West Championships as he won by two one-hundredths of a second, setting a conference meet and stadium record time of 1:44.75. The senior has recently been added to The Bowerman Watch List, announced by the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association. Jock is currently ranked No. 1 in the U.S. this season for his posted 800-meter mark, while tying the Big West Conference record he set last June when he placed runner-up at the NCAA Championships.
Long Beach State’s Woodruff received his first postseason award as a senior with a first-place finish at the Big West Championship in the javelin. Woodruff threw 231-03 to win the event and finish with two first place career finishes at the Big West Championship. Woodruff heaved his personal-best at the Big West Challenge, hosted by Cal State Fullerton this season with a 243-02 mark for first place. In his six appearances this season, the senior took home the title five times.
LBSU teammate Lockett was awarded a share of top freshman honors for his performance in the 400-meters. The freshman crossed the line at the Big West Championships with a season-best 47.93 in the prelims for an automatic spot to the finals, where he took the top mark with a 48.05 finish. His counterpart, UCSB’s Vaziri, made his mark as well on the track. In the conference’s Multi-Event Championships, the freshman recorded a personal record 1:50.21 in the 800 meters to put him in eighth place on the all-time UCSB list. He went on to compete in the 1500 meters for a fourth place finish with a time of 3:45.71.
Helping UC Davis win the Big West women’s championship, Sumpter set two meet records for the Aggies en route to becoming the program’s first Track Athlete of the Year. She set a pace no one could challenge in the 10,000 meters on the first day, finishing more than a minute ahead of the rest of the field, for a meet-record 34:50.29 pace. The junior followed suit with an exceptional run on day two in the 5,000 meters to post a meet record 16:35.07.
Nwaba is just the second Gaucho to win the Women’s Field Athlete of the Year award for Santa Barbara. Nwaba set records all season collecting four Big West Athlete of the Week honors. In the multi-event portion of the conference meet, the senior led the competition for her second heptathlon title with a record-breaking score of 5,709 points, eclipsing the previous mark of 5,642 set by Cal Poly’s Sharon Day in 2008. Nwaba continued on during the main meet with two more first place finishes. She ran a school record 13.62 in the 100 meter hurdles to beat her previous lifetime best by more than half a second. Nwaba also captured the title in the high jump with a best mark of 5-9.75. Her three titles helped the Gauchos contend for the team championship, as they fell just a half point short of champion UC Davis.
The 2012 Women’s Freshman of the Year honor is the first in Titan history. Thompson finished in the top three twice in individual sprint races at the Big West Championships and helped the Titans to a first place finish in the women’s 4x100 relay. In the 400 meters, she competed with top competitors for a third place finish at 55.01, while finishing runner-up in the 200-meter dash with a mark of 24.18, just .09 seconds off the lead. Thompson ran the anchor of the 4x100, where the Titans took the win with a 45.61 finish.
Dolan led UC Santa Barbara to the program’s first Big West Men’s Championship title and came within half a point of claiming the trophy on the women’s side, giving him outright honors on the men’s side and a share of the women’s. It is his first such award as the Gaucho men’s coach and his third honor for the women. Dolan coached both the heptathlon and decathlon winners at the Big West Championship, while overseeing 10 first place finishes in the individual events (3 men, 7 women).
Wartenburg led the Aggie women’s track and field program to its first Big West title in spectacular fashion. This is Wartenburg’s first top coaching honor and the first in program history. In his third year supervising the program, Wartenburg helped the Aggies set multiple personal and meet records at the Big West Championship. On the final day of competition, the Aggies posted 18 scoring performances, which included four titles, four runner-up placings, three third place finishes, and a trio of fourths. The Aggies scored in three of the four field events Saturday and in all 10 events on the track.