Seniors got DII track team off and running

    The UCSD track and field team will see a total of 16 athletes graduate this year, all of whom were strong contributors to a program that has seen many changes in the past four years. During the recent change from Division III to Division II, the graduating athletes helped to “”bridge the gap,”” according to head coach Tony Salerno, and each athlete is notable for the unique insight he or she has brought to the team as a whole.

    Courtesy of UCSD Athletics

    On the men’s side, there will be seven graduating, including David Dunbar, David Long, Alan Shapiro, Trevor Takayama, Sam Denes, Randall Leyking and Brian Parisi.

    Dunbar was a top four-year distance runner in track, but also excelled at cross country. His long-term commitment to the team enabled him to showcase his skills in Division III and further hone them at the Division II level.

    “”David Dunbar was the first UCSD runner to be an All-American when we became a Division II school,”” Salerno said.

    Another distance runner, Shapiro, was also a consistent performer whose time and attention to his chosen sport was validated by a strong performance at the conference championships.

    Long, though known primarily as a jumper, was an athlete adaptable to the conditions of many other events, and was prized by the team for assisting in events that were undermanned.

    “”An amazingly versatile athlete, he pole vaulted, ran relays, jumped in different events. He covered a lot of spaces,”” Salerno said.

    Long plans on attending graduate school and focusing on research.

    Takayama served the track team as a top sprinter, one who helped the team rankings considerably as a team player, but whose individual efforts are also evident in the top 10 all-time marks at UCSD.

    Takayama has post-graduating plans to join the Peace Corps in Africa.

    Denes was a superior 100- and 200-meter sprinter whose efforts and team leadership were applauded by Salerno.

    “”Sam was a consistent performer and team leader who bridged the gap into Division II,”” Salerno said.

    Leyking was another four-year sprinter who took his team responsibilities seriously, something validated by the fact that he was also a repeated letter winner.

    “”He was a tremendous positive influence,”” Salerno said.

    Distance runner Parisi was a junior college transfer who was not only an excellent 800-meter runner, but also a dedicated member of the 4×400-meter relay.

    On the women’s side, there are nine seniors, each of whom made a powerful and unique contribution to the success of the team over the past four years.

    Lisa Caldwell was a versatile champion in events such as the javelin, hurdles and relays. However, her specialties were the hurdles and javelin.

    Jackie Vu’s superior skills in the pole vault enabled her to be a repeated school record holder in her chosen event, with several showings on the UCSD all-time list.

    Kelly Mimnaugh, another talented pole vaulter, was also a prime team member and a potent scorer.

    “”Kelly was a very effective scorer who made her personal record at her second conference championship,”” Salerno said.

    Mimnaugh and her senior teammate, Juliana Mittino, were named outstanding performers, as was their sophomore teammate Kendra Canape.

    Mittino is another excellent pole vaulter who was awarded many times for her athletic capabilities.

    High jumper Zita Dixon soared to victory many times in her accolade-filled run for UCSD.

    Clara Wilson is an athlete who applied herself in many events, but specialized in both the hurdles and jumps.

    Senior sprinter Erin Newman was both a dedicated team leader and an accomplished athlete of many colors.

    “”She was a great team leader who helped bridge the gap from Division III to Division II and contributed in many events,”” Salerno said.

    Sara Allsup is an experienced athlete who was a two-time All-American in discus, made the UCSD all-time list in four different events, and has post-graduation plans for a career in teaching.

    Last week at nationals, Allsup improved on her performance from a year ago by finishing sixth and earning All-American recognition for a second consecutive year with a mark of 152’4″” in the discus.

    “”She was an exceptional national athlete,”” Salerno said.

    Another exceptional athlete was undoubtedly Audrey Sung. Sung was a three-time All-American in track and was also an All-American on the cross country team.

    She not only left a powerful mark athletically, but also academically, with a high GPA that earned her the status as a top national scholar-athlete.

    Last week, Sung gave an All-American performance in her specialty, the 3,000, with a fifth-place showing. She also finished ninth in the 5,000 in 17:08.02, while battling injury and illness.

    In addition, Sung was recently named the co-Most Valuable Player of the track team, along with junior teammate Sagrario Hernandez, and is currently fielding several offers from a number of prestigious medical schools.

    “”Audrey was one of the top distance runners in team history and was also a top academic athlete both at UCSD and in California Collegiate Athletic Association,”” Salerno said.

    Each athlete’s competitive spirit and tremendous athletic contributions to a team that has gone through many changes, particularly the switch to Division II, are evidence of their strong dedication, team solidarity and long-term perseverance which paved the way for their current and future success.

    “”Our current training and coaching staff is in its fourth year and it is a great credit for each of these athletes to bring us to the level we are at now; we have a bright future. We will greatly miss all of our graduating athletes,”” Salerno said.

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