UCSD Readies for Postseason After Home Meet

    TRACK & FIELD — Despite resting many of its top athletes
    in preparation for the upcoming California Collegiate Athletic Association
    championships, UCSD had a very strong showing at the annual Triton
    Invitational, setting two national qualifying marks along with several personal
    records. The meet hosted some of the nation’s best athletes, drawing from both
    Division I schools and the professional circuit, with a handful of Olympic
    medalists competing. With the regular season now completed, the Tritons head
    into the CCAA championships riding a huge wave of momentum after a 2008 campaign
    that saw school records falling at almost every meet.

    “I think it was a real good spring board for where we want
    to go now in the postseason,” men’s head coach Tony Salerno said. “We got to
    put a lot of people where we wanted to at the meet and get them some really
    quality competition. It really was one of the top meets in the U.S.,
    so it was great to have the world in our house.”

    Senior hurdler Stephen Johnson finished a solid 13th out of 21 competitors in the highly competitive men’s 110-meter hurdles race on April 26 at the Triton Invitational with his time of 15.88 seconds. (Andrew Ricci/Guardian)

    Sophomore distance runner Brianna Schofield led the Tritons
    with her third-place finish of 4:33.61 in the women’s 1,500-meter dash.
    Schofield’s time met the national qualifying mark, earning her an automatic
    trip to the NCAA National Championships in late May. Finishing two places
    behind Schofield was senior distance runner Dianne Dunn, who ran the event in a
    time of 4:37.15.

    The 100-meter hurdles was by far UCSD’s winningest event of
    the day, with numerous athletes turning in fantastic times as the Tritons
    grabbed five out of the top 10 finishes. Sophomore hurdler Christine Merrill
    took fifth place with her time of 14.52 while senior Kayliegh Knudson placed
    seventh with 14.61, a season and career best.

    On the men’s side, sophomore jumper Casey Ryan became the
    first member of the UCSD men’s team to hit an automatic national qualifying
    mark when he took first place with his leap of 6’10.75”, another season and
    career best.

    “[Ryan’s mark] is the first one we’re certain to have go to
    Nationals,” Salerno said.
    “Automatics are very rare, normally only the top people in the nation get that
    mark so it feels great and we’re real happy for Casey.”

    While both Triton teams rested many of their athletes during
    the Triton Invitational, the men’s team especially chose to let some of its
    best performers tend to minor injuries in hopes that the two weeks off before
    the CCAA championships will allow them to return to top shape.

    “On the men’s side we’re trying to overcome some injuries
    and making headway trying to get back to full strength at conference,” Salerno
    said. “In sifting through the marks it’s always overwhelming when you look at
    the quality of the competition. When you see our people down 15th or 20th on
    the list it’s a bit shocking, but it’s more a testament to how good the
    athletes at the meet were.”

    In the most recent power rankings put out by the United
    States Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association, the UCSD
    women’s team once again retained its perch atop the national rankings, while
    the Triton men kept a firm grasp on their sixth place ranking. The women, who
    have been the nation’s top-ranked Division-II team since the outdoor track
    season started, have a comfortable nine-point lead over Albilene Christian
    University with their total of 343.06. While the ranking is a boost of
    confidence for the team, it cannot be taken as a sure sign of an eventual
    national championship. Both coaches and athletes are aware that they must keep
    up their hard work and determination throughout the conference and national
    championships.

    “The women look pretty safe with how they’re going to do, so
    we just want them to go out, respect the competition and do everything they can
    to get ready for Nationals,” Salerno said.

    The CCAA championship will be a three-day event starting on
    May 1 hosted by Cal State Los Angeles. While many Tritons have already received
    automatic bids to the national championships, other athletes still can punch
    their ticket to the NCAA finals with strong performances during the first round
    of postseason competition.

    “The goal is the top three on the men’s side, which I think
    we can achieve,” Salerno said.
    “Historically, ours is the top conference in the nation. The women are just
    going to lay it out there to get their fourth straight conference title and get
    as many athletes to nationals as possible.”

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