For the third time in the last four seasons, Cal State Fullerton men’s outdoor track and field team are champions of the Big West after a heroic last gasp in the meet’s final event that cemented their first-place finish. The women’s team placed second as a team but won several individual awards throughout the weekend.
The Big West Championships kicked off Thursday and Friday with an assortment of field events and preliminary track events that would determine who would compete in the finals on Saturday.
To kick off the meet on Thursday, Tanner Miller threw a season-best 58.01 meters, or 190 feet and 4 inches, in the hammer throw, earning third place in the event.
Friday’s field events saw several top-three finishes, including Iesha Hamm, who defended her title by winning the women’s high jump with a mark of 1.76 meters, or 5 feet, 9 ¼ inches, becoming the first woman in CSUF history to win the event in two consecutive seasons. Fellow Titan Alexis Vincent-Walker took third in the event.
Naiah Boardingham became the first in school history to win the Big West title in women’s long jump, setting a new personal record of 6.36 meters, or 20 feet, 10 ½ inches, No. 17 in the West region. In the men’s jumping events, Christian Wood finished second in the long jump with a mark of 7.46 meters or 24 feet,5 ¾ inches while Marcel Sylvester took third in the high jump with a mark of 2.01 meters, 6 feet, 7 inches.
Rounding out day two, steeple stalwart Sarah Hollis won the 3000-meter steeplechase and became the first in 11 years to accomplish this for the Titans. Her mark of 10 minutes, 34.61 seconds is the fourth-fastest time in CSUF history.
With the running event finals all set to go on Saturday, the final day of the meet held infinite possibilities for all teams involved.
The remaining field events played out first with two Titans finishing top-three in the triple jump. Ty Wallace took second place on the women’s side with a mark of 12.24 meters, or 40 feet, 2 inches, while Juwan Seales took third place in the men’s triple jump with a mark of 15.02 meters or 49 feet,3 ½ inches.
With nothing left to do but determine the winners of a majority of the track events, the Big West Championships would be decided in the last five hours of the meet.
The ’ four-woman team of Deja Allain, Boardingham, Amir’a Edmond and Hailey Murdica finished second in the 4x100-meter relay with a time of 46.60 seconds, just three-tenths of a second behind UC Irvine’s relay quartet. The men’s team of Parris Samaniego, Naythn Scruggs, Resaun House and Marcel Espinoza, who injured his leg in the event, finished third in the event.
Samantha Huerta finished third in the 1500-meter with a time of 4 minutes, 21.13 seconds and though she won the 800 in the preliminary round, she ended up finishing third in the final. Sam Ayala took second in the men’s 1500 with a time of 3:46.85.
In the men’s hurdle events, it was once again the Charles Kelly show, finishing first in both the 110-meter hurdles as well as the 400 hurdles. Kelly broke his own two-week-old school record in the 110 with a time of 14.10, and broke another 20-year-old school record in the 400 with a time of 51.23, ahead of teammate Reyte Rash who took second.
Not to be outdone, Maya Occiano took first place in both the preliminary and final rounds of the women’s 400 hurdles. Occiano, a freshman, is No. 51 in the West in the event.
Parris Samaniego finished second in the men’s 400-meter with a time of 47.60, ahead of Justin Lowe who finished third. Espinoza, who placed fourth in the preliminary round, finished his lap in the event on his injured leg to net the Titans a precious two points to add to their team total.
The short-distance sprinting events kicked off with the 100 dash and Boardingham notching another top finish, taking second place with a time of 11.73. House took third for the men, and second in the 200 with a time of 21.60
With the Big West Championships on the line, Kelly took the baton in third as anchor of the 4x400 team, finishing first to give the event and championship to the Titan men. The women’s relay team finished third.
All that remains for Fullerton’s track and field team is the chance at individual glory. A total of 10 athletes have qualified for the NCAA West Preliminaries, with an additional two who are on the cusp and could qualify in the event that an athlete drops out. It is not known whether all who qualify plan to attend. The top 48 marks of each individual event qualify for the first round, where the top 12 will then move on to the NCAA Championships in Eugene, Oregon. The NCAA Division I West Preliminaries begin Thursday, May 27 at Texas A&M University.