A Look Back At The 2017 Track & Field Season
2017 Final Track & Field Release
Highlights of the 2017 Big West Track & Field season included a first-team All-American, the breaking of a 10-year old conference record and the first men's championship in school history for Cal State Fullerton.
BIG WEST AT A GLANCE
Goins Headlines Big West All-American List
Sixteen Big West athletes captured All-America status from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, led by first team selection Rianna Goins of UC Davis.
Goins finished in sixth place in the women’s 800-meter finals with a personal-best time of two minutes, 3.86 seconds. She earned first-team status for advancing to the top eight. Goins improved drastically on her previous PR, the 2:05.42 set at the NCAA West Preliminary in Austin, Texas. Her performance on the historic Hayward Field track in Eugene, Ore., moved her ahead of Raquel Lambdin for No. 2 on the Aggie all-time list in the 800. Goins trails only Lauren Wallace, who earned first-team All-America honors in 2013 after finishing eighth in the final in a school record 2:02.91.
Goins gave UC Davis at least one All-American for the sixth straight year – and she is the second first-teamer in the last three years. Raquel Lambdin garnered the distinction in the 1,500 meters in 2015.
More All-American Achievements
In addition to Goins, Big West representatives exhibited solid performances in Oregon on the way to All-American recognition.
Two CSUN Matadors received multiple All-American accolades. Senior Monique Griffiths doubled up on honors in the hammer and discus. She placed 11th in the hammer with a top throw of 207-06 (63.24m), less than a foot from reaching the top nine, which would have qualified her for finals and provided three extra throws. Griffiths came back and tossed the discus a distance of 174-11 (53.33m), putting her in 16th place. As a result of finishing between 9th and 16th place, Griffiths earned second-team All-America status in both events.
CSUN teammate Lexis Lambert also collected two All-America awards for her performances in the 4x100 relay and 400 meter dash. Teaming with Courtney Robinson, Asheley Bamberg and Marie Veale, Lambert helped the Matadors to a time of 44.44 in the 4x100 relay for 10th place overall and second-team All-America recognition for the quartet. Lambert later added to her personal haul with a 19th place performance in the 400 as she clocked 53.91 seconds. She earned honorable mention accolades for that effort.
The list of second-team All-Americans also included the following:
« Peyton Bilo, Cal Poly – The sophomore, who qualified for nationals in the women’s 5,000 meters after running almost the entire West Preliminary race without her right shoe, turned in a 10th place finish at nationals with a time of 15:52.82, just under four seconds off the Big West record.
« Riley Cooks, Long Beach State – In her second consecutive NCAA meet appearance, the senior finished 15th overall with 5,256 points in the heptathlon.
« Isaiah Jewett, UC Irvine – Jewett posted a career-best time of 1:47.43 in the men’s 800 meters to finish 11th overall. He came up just .24 seconds short of qualifying for the final, but still eclipsed his previous PR of 1:48.22.
« Matthew Kuskey, UC Santa Barbara – Exceeding his seed mark of 24 by nine places, Kuskey landed in 15th place overall in the men’s javelin with a top toss of 223-11 (68.25m). That was the second-best throw of his career.
« Lloyd Sicard, UC Irvine – Sicard appeared in his third straight NCAA Championship, and sported his best finish as he clocked 13.70 seconds in the men’s 110-meter hurdles for 14th place. The three-time Big West champion left UCI as the school record holder at 13.60.
« Tori Usgaard, UC Santa Barbara – Finished in 16th place in the heptathlon with 5,245 points.
Big West Represented On National Leaders List
Several Big West athletes have posted national leading marks in 2017. They are as follows:
BIG WEST NATIONAL RANKINGS – TOP 25 ONLY
|Lexis Lambert, CSUN
||Big West Championship
|Peyton Bilo, Cal Poly
|Brianna Cueva, CSUN
|Barbara Coward, UCI
||Ben Brown Invitational
|Monique Griffiths, CSUN
||Big West Championship
|Riley Cooks, LBSU
||Big West Multis
|Tori Usgaard, UCSB
||Big West Multis
|Lloyd Sicard, UCI
||adidas/Steve Scott Invitational
|Vincent Calhoun, LBSU
||adidas/Steve Scott Invitational
|Kemonie Briggs, LBSU
||Beach vs. UCLA Dual
Cal State Fullerton Wins First Big West Men’s Title
The dean of Big West coaches, 29th-year Cal State Fullerton head coach John Elders captured the program’s first men’s track and field title in 2017. The Titans achieved the title on their home turf at the Titan Track Complex, and did so in dramatic fashion. Leading Cal Poly by a slim one-point margin – 125 to 124 – the Titans needed to outpace the Mustangs in the 4x400 relay, the final race of the conference championship meet.
The squads were seeded fifth and sixth going into the event with similar seasonal best times of 3:16.33 and 3:16.40. The Titan quartet of Marcel Espinoza, Luis Matos, Thaddeus Smith and Darion Zimmerman obliterated their previous top mark by almost five seconds, finishing in a second-place 3:11.42 for eight points, while Cal Poly came in fifth (3:14.55) for four points. CSF won the championship by a final margin of 133 to 128.
The Titans earned four event victories en route to the title. Senior Darion Zimmerman contributed to three of them. He was the first athlete to win both the 200 meters and 400 meters at the Big West meet since Boise State’s Corey Nelson in 1999, and he also participated on CSF’s winning 4x100 relay team. Sophomore Diego Courbis earned 10 important points with his victory in the 400 meter hurdles.
CSUN Women Return To The Winner’s Circle
The CSUN women’s program added a Big West record 10th track and field team trophy to the case in winning by the second-smallest margin in the 34-year history of the meet. The Matadors handed head coach Avery Anderson his third title during his seven-year tenure, collecting 144 points to 142.7 for runner-up UC Davis. Similar to the men’s competition, the winner was not decided until the last event – the 4x400 relay.
The Matadors and Aggies were positioned as closely together during that race as they were in the standings both prior to and afterwards. Clinging to a miniscule 0.7 point lead, the Aggies needed to finish ahead of the Matadors to claim their fifth title in six years. However, CSUN senior Lexis Lambert nipped UC Davis senior Rochelle Nadreau at the finish line, winning a thriller by .9 seconds – 3:39.45 to 3:39.54. That slight edge gave CSUN a two-point bump over the Aggies for the final 1.3 point winning margin.
The victory, the second in three years for the Matadors, hinged in large part to the return of three seniors who redshirted the 2016 season. The removal of that scoring punch explained CSUN’s last place finish at the 2016 Big West meet. But having Lambert, Marie Veale and Monique Griffiths back in the fold unquestionably impacted the final results this year.
Lambert, who ran the anchor leg in the 4x400, captured gold in the 200 and 400 meters, becoming the first Big West athlete to do so since Cal State Fullerton’s Ciara Short in 2010 and 2011. Her career-best 52.36 seconds victory in the 400 vaulted her up to No. 13 on the national best marks list.
Veale won the 100 meter dash in 11.44 seconds, one-tenth of a second faster than UC Irvine’s Persis William-Mensah.
Griffiths earned 10 points in the hammer with a Big West record throw of 215 feet, 11 inches, while also placing third in the discus (170-09).
Senior Brianna Cueva, a return participant from the 2016 meet, contributed heavily to the victory as well. She was a double winner in the shot put and discus. Cueva dominated in the shot put with a winning throw of 53-02.75. In the discus, she earned repeat gold with a top mark of 181 feet, 6 inches.
Winning seven of the 21 events returned the Matadors to Big West glory.
Sicard Concludes Outstanding Career As Three-Time Big West Champ
UC Irvine senior Lloyd Sicard became just the third individual in Big West history to win the 110-meter hurdles three consecutive years at the conference meet, joining San Jose State’s Dede Cooper (1976-78) and CSUN’s Anthony Brown (2004-06). Sicard, who won the race in a wind-legal 13.61 seconds, nearly missed breaking Cooper’s record of 13.60 that has stood since 1976.
Sicard improved his winning times from sophomore to senior year, going from 14.05 (2015) to 13.64 (2016) to this year’s 13.61. Sicard ran an identical 13.60 at both the 2016 and 2017 NCAA West Preliminary meets to establish the UCI program record. The Gardena, Calif., native reached three straight NCAA Championship meets.
Gargantuan Record-Breaking Throw Spurs Griffiths To Title
CSUN senior Monique Griffiths had the most impressive individual performance at the 2017 Big West Championship. She broke two records with one throw in the hammer, on her final attempt of the competition. Griffiths heaved the hammer a distance of 215 feet, 11 inches (65.82m), which eclipsed the conference meet record (206-03) and the overall Big West record (213-10) – both set by UC Santa Barbara’s Amy Haapenen in 2007. It was the second time in her career that she won the hammer competition at the conference meet. She won in 2015 with a mark of 204-06.
Bilo Survives Shoeless Adventure In Austin
Cal Poly sophomore Peyton Bilo won the women’s 5,000 meters at the Big West Championship in 16:43.83, the fourth different Mustang champion in the last five years. Bilo won that race convincingly, nearly 21 seconds faster than the runner-up.
Her next race at the West Preliminary in Austin, Texas, featured an unexpected obstacle she needed to overcome. Within the first 100 meters of the 5,000 – a 12.5 lap race – Bilo faced the adversity of losing her right shoe when a fellow competitor stepped on her heel. Bilo kicked the shoe onto the infield, and proceeded to run the remainder of the race with one shoe.
Among the 24 runners in the heat, Bilo needed to finish in the top-five to automatically qualify for the national meet. She managed to ignore the discomfort and the lack of traction, pushing herself into the top three with around three laps to go, and held on for the fifth and final qualifying spot. Bilo dueled with Wisconsin sophomore Amy Davis during the final stretch, and crossed the finish line in a photo finish. Bilo leaned across just ahead of Davis – 16:44.264 to 16:44.270 – probably the length of a shoe.
Briggs Highest Ranked Big West Men’s Athlete
Long Beach State sophomore Kemonie Briggs, the 2017 Big West Men’s Field Athlete of the Year, owned the highest national rank of any male in the conference as he was No. 8 nationally in the long jump. Briggs posted a wind-aided (+2.5) distance of 26-02.75 in the season-opening Beach vs. UCLA Dual, which led the country for most of the first month. That mark did not count in the LBSU record book as a result of being above the wind-legal standard. However, he achieved a countable distance at the Beach Invitational in mid-April, covering 26 feet even (+1.9) for a new school benchmark.
Cooks, Briggs Named Big West Athletes Of The Meet
The 2017 Big West Men’s and Women’s Athlete of the Meet awards went to Long Beach State representatives as sophomore Kemonie Briggs and senior Riley Cooks collected the honors. Briggs tallied 24 points after winning the long jump, finishing second in the 400 meters and third in the 200 meters. He also contributed to 11 additional points as a member of the third-place 4x400 relay team and the fourth-place 4x100 relay team.
Cooks earned women’s Athlete of the Meet accolades for the second straight year. She captured gold in the heptathlon and long jump, while placing fifth in the 100-meter hurdles and seventh in the javelin for a total of 26 points.