Tritons Break Track and Field School Records at Oxy Invitational

Kurt Johnston, Senior Staff Writer

The UC San Diego track and field team continued a streak of stellar performances at the Oxy Invitational, hosted by Occidental College, last Sunday, with 12 athletes placing among the top three in their respective events. The Tritons excelled in the field events, with redshirt senior Sebastian Garcia winning men’s discus and senior Katie Cuneo ending victorious in women’s javelin. UCSD added multiple record-breaking PRs and a first-place finish in the women’s 4×400 relay as they concluded their penultimate event of the season.


UCSD got off to a hot start in the field events, with freshman Feyi Olukanni medaling in women’s shot put and discus. After two consecutive faults, Olukanni threw 12.90 meters on her final attempt to place third in shot put. The freshman then hit 43.55 meters on her sixth discus throw, finishing second by just over a meter and setting a strong tone for the rest of her Triton teammates. Garcia also found success in the men’s discus event, throwing 46.72 meters for a gargantuan first-place finish. Fellow Triton Matthew Amankonah threw 40.98 meters for a 1–2 UCSD podium placement. 


The Tritons continued to succeed on the field with six further top-three finishes. Senior Naomi Chin surpassed 3.81 meters for a stellar second in women’s pole vault, while senior Nathan Yoder hit 14.33 meters for a narrow third place in men’s triple jump. High jump proved especially fruitful for both the Triton men and women. Sophomore Lauren Pritchard jumped 1.65 meters, placing second only due to faults on her first two attempts. On the men’s side, senior Jack Wiseman and sophomore Miles Bennett jumped 2.09 meters and 2.03 meters respectively for second and third on the podium. Finally, Cuneo put together an excellent performance in women’s javelin, throwing 43.92 meters for a runaway victory. Four of Cuneo’s six attempts bettered the second place throw, with the senior just half a meter away from a season PR.


UCSD’s outstanding performance continued on the track, with the women’s team running several exceptional races. Junior Lizzie Coley-Dolan and graduate student Megan Mattson got the party started in 100-meter hurdles, with Coley-Dolan recording a blistering 14.36 and Mattson running 14.99 for second and fifth place finishes. The Tritons then placed third in the 4×100 relay, only half a second behind the race leaders. Freshman Leila Kepler added a quick 12.17 in the 100-meter dash for a ninth place finish and a season best.


The highlight of the day for women’s track was in the 4×400 relay, as the Tritons pulled off a stunning victory in a race decided by less than two seconds. Seniors Gloria Kalt, Kate MacNaughton, Maxine Schultz, and freshman Lauren Schiele combined for a 3:54.47, mere seconds short of a season best. 


While unable to replicate the success of the women’s team, the Triton men also had some excellent races. Senior Jake Heinlein sprinted a 49.40 in the 400-meter dash, placing fourth in his heat and fifth overall. Despite a seventh place finish, senior Nolan Crespo recorded a season best 10.68 in the 100-meter dash, half a second behind the race leader and only three tenths behind his all-time PR. Additionally, the all-senior 4×400 relay team of Heinlin, Saliou Ndiaye, Kyle McCray, and Nicco Pompili rode an extremely quick time of 3:20.40 to a third place finish.


Sunday was a record-breaking day for the men’s long distance team, with junior Zeno Castiglioni and graduate student Marcos Milla etching their names into Triton track and field history. Castiglioni recorded a 9:13.08 in the 3000-meter steeplechase, good for fifth-all time at UCSD and only ten seconds behind the record holder. Milla, who already holds the eighth fastest UCSD time in the 10,000-meter event, ran a 14:28.44 in the 5000-meter to claim fourth all time in that event. Castiglioni and Milla join a growing list of recent Triton record-holders, including teammates Crespo, Schultz, and Coley-Dolan.


The Tritons concluded their season on May 13 in Azusa at the Azusa Pacific University’s Franson Last Chance. While not yet eligible for the Big West and NCAA Championships, UCSD’s exceptional athletes demonstrated their championship quality throughout the outdoor track season. Triton track and field will return in February 2024, one year closer to full Division I status.