Tritons Take Second

John Hanacek/Guardian

TRACK & FIELD — UCSD’s track-and-field stars walked onto their home field May 6 ready to sweep the 2010 California Collegiate Athletic Association Championships. Turns out, so did Chico State.

The Triton squad came in second place on both the men’s and women’s sides at the conference championships last week. UCSD hosted the meet and won 15 events, but it was Chico who came out on top by definitively sweeping both divisions.

The Triton women came up just short in their bid for a sixth consecutive conference title, losing it by less than three points: UCSD ended with 209.5 points, second only to Chico’s total of 212.33. Cal State Los Angeles finished third with 101.33 points, while San Francisco State finished fourth.

The fate of the women’s title came down to a thrilling 4×400 relay — the final event of the meet — but the Tritons were unable to prevent Chico’s conference win.

“To get at that many conference champions and not win the meet is incredible,” women’s coach Darcy Ahner said. “It’s a tough one to swallow, but I’m so proud of how the team competed, it’s hard to be sad about it.”

The women had 12 event wins at the meet. Senior Christine Merrill was named Athlete of the Meet for the second straight year, after winning a total of five events throughout the day: the 100- and 400-meter hurdles, the 400-meter race and the 4×100 and 4×400 relay teams. Her time of 54.76 seconds in the 400-meter is the best in school history.

Junior Kelly Fogarty joined Merrill on both relay teams, and individually won both the 100- and 200-meter dashes. Yet neither could compete with the versatile junior Stephanie LeFever, who competed in no less than 12 events over the three-day meet. LeFever won the heptathlon and long jump on Friday, then won the triple jump and saw victory as part of the 4×400 relay team on Saturday.

Fogarty’s 200-meter time of 23.97 seconds improved on her own school record; It was also the first time she had broken the 24-second mark.

“I’ve been working very hard to get down to the 23s,” Fogarty said. “So it was very nice to actually do it.”

Senior Linda Rainwater battled injury to win the high jump with a mark of 5’7.25” — making her the reigning national champion in the event.

However despite star efforts of the Triton athletes, Chico’s deep, solid roster proved too much to overcome, as team members were often able to pick up points even if they did not win the event.

“We didn’t have as much depth going into this meet as we’ve had in years past,” Ahner said. “We put together a phenomenal meet, but we just did not have the depth.”

On the men’s side, Chico quickly ran away with the meet, totaling 290.5 points to earn its seventh straight CCAA title. The Triton men finished with 140 points, just ahead of Cal Poly Pomona’s 130.

Senior Leon Baham was the star of the day, winning both the 110- and 400-meter hurdles.

“What can I say? The guy just lines up and races,” men’s coach Tony Salerno said. “It’s really a warrior mentality needed for the hurdle events, and he’s got that.”

Sophomore Nick Howe picked up his second consecutive conference title in the javelin throw: His mark of 208’6” bested his closest competitor by over 15 feet.

The Tritons will compete in the Cal State Los Angeles Last Chance Qualifier Meet on May 15, and will travel to the national Division-II Championships two weeks later in Charlotte, NC.

Readers can contact Liam Rose at [email protected].

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