After trailing on the scoreboard due to an underwhelming day one performance, Cal State Fullerton men’s track and field team roared from behind to claim the 2023 Big West Conference title late into the second day of the event on their home track.
The Titans finished the day with 184.5 points, which placed them two points ahead of Long Beach State with 182.5 points. Cal Poly San Luis Obispo rounded out the top three of the men’s teams with 152 points.
Entering the final event, the men's 4x400m relay, CSUF and Long Beach State were tied at 174.5 points apiece.
“I was excited knowing going into the 4x4 that it was going to come down to that. I know my guys are prepared for it,” said CSUF track and field head coach Marques Barosso. “This is what we train for all year, and if it was going to come down to me and my group, and giving it to these guys to go and win it, that’s what I would’ve preferred.”
With the title on the line, the Titans Justin Lowe found himself with a slight lead over Sharks’ Caleb Roberson in the final stretch of the race. With the two runners essentially side-by-side, Lowe leaned his head forward as he crossed the finish line to secure the Titans’ win by just .02 seconds ahead of Long Beach State.
In addition to the 4x400m relay win, Titans senior Reyte Rash’s first place performance in the men’s 400m hurdle was an important result for CSUF. Resulting in a crucial 10 points for the Titans, Rash ran a 50.95 to secure his coveted conference championship.
“It’s my last year running collegiate track. So to go out a Big West champ, and also on my home turf. I can’t ask for anything more than that,” Rash said.
Rash said the mental challenge that hurdles present as compared to other events, especially in this race with his biggest competition Roberson, was right at his tail all the way to the finish.
“That was actually one of the dudes I competed with a lot of my high school years. It was basically me and him almost the whole time, from CIF all the way to state,” Rash said. “We’ve been battling it out for a long time. And to see him come back, and give us one last race, it’s a battle. But I can appreciate everything me, my teammates and him have gone through.”
However, despite an impressive win by the men’s team, CSUF women’s track and field team had an underwhelming tournament.
The women’s side ranked eighth with an underwhelming 49.5 points out of ten teams. The lackluster performance of the women’s squad is one that head coach Barusso knows he has to take accountability for.
“I need to be better on the women’s side. We have a bunch of young, talented ladies who understand now what it takes to win a championship,” Barusso said. “I think moving forward you are going to have to look out for this team because they will be competing for championships next year.”
The Titans will return to compete in the NCAA West Preliminaries in Sacramento. The four-day meet starts on Wednesday, May 24.
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