Track and field qualifies 2

    UCSD track and field sent partial squads to the Ben Brown Track & Field Invitational at Cal State Fullerton on March 9, where the team qualified two athletes for the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division II Championships at the end of the season.

    According to head coach Tony Salerno, about half the full team was sent to the meet, which featured several professional clubs and Division I schools, among them host Cal State Fullerton, University of Southern California, San Diego State, UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara.

    “”We used basically who needed to go,”” Salerno said. “”Some people needed to rest. Some people had papers to do, so they stayed home. It was a nonscoring meet, so we had that flexibility.””

    Jon Wong ran a 1:52.52 in the 800-meter run — good enough for a provisional qualification to this year’s NCAAs. Wong finished fifth in the event on the day. Steve Smith took second in the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:58.09, but it wasn’t enough to meet the qualifying mark of 3:55.00 for nationals.

    Ryan Vincent had a strong outing, finishing fourth in the high jump with a mark of 6-4. Neil Kalra, Erik Wackenstedt and Alan Shapiro finished fifth, seventh and ninth, respectively, in the 5,000. In the discus, Abel Aramburo took eighth and Hans VanDale took ninth to round out the top performers on the men’s side.

    “”What’s interesting is that the men’s team is better than we were last year,”” Salerno said. “”It just hasn’t showed up since we’ve been going against such tough teams.””

    On the women’s side, Sara Allsup had the strongest performance for the Tritons, finishing second in the discus with a throw of 149-2. More importantly, her mark easily surpassed the NCAA qualifying mark of 143 feet.

    Sagrario Hernandez, who owns the second-best shot put mark in school history, took fifth on the day. UC Davis transfer Kathy Read had what Salerno called a “”breakthrough performance,”” posting a 10:21.83 in the 3,000 to finish fifth and nearly reach the NCAA-qualifying mark of 10:18.

    Other solid performances were turned in by Vicki Phipps, who placed eighth in the 400-meter hurdles, as well as Jackie Vu, who finished 10th in the pole-vault with a mark of 10-6. The squad’s success on Saturday is indicative of its performance over the course of the season, according to Salerno.

    “”The biggest surprise is that the women’s team is even stronger than we thought,”” Salerno said. “”We saw that last week when they beat Santa Barbara. We didn’t think that we were that good, but with the talent we have, we’re pretty effective.””

    According to Salerno, though the Tritons are much-improved, so are the other teams in the California Collegiate Athletic Association that UCSD will face.

    “”It looks like the whole conference is better,”” Salerno said. “”Hopefully we’re going to be able to make a run at third, possibly second.””

    The team goes on a two-week break from competition, but starts up again at the San Diego State Invitational at SDSU on March 23. Afterward, the Tritons will field teams at the California-Nevada Collegiate Championships, usually loaded with Division I squads from Stanford, Cal and UCLA, at Fresno State the following weekend.

    “”[The San Diego State Invitational] is going to be an individual, nonscoring meet,”” Salerno said. “”It’ll be a tune-up for the Cal-Nevada meet [where] we’ll take about a dozen athletes of each gender. Looking down the road after that is conference championships, which is our main focus. After that, we’ll have quite a few people going to nationals, that’s for sure.””

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