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Friday, December 3, 2021

Six Aggies earn top-three finishes in Northridge

Just when you thought it was safe to put down your Twinkies and Coke to go run the track at Toomey, think again.

Track season isn’t over just yet.

For the first time in school history, the UC Davis track team competed in the Big West Conference Championships this weekend, with six athletes earning top-three honors.

Matt Swarbrick, Jazz Trice, Polly Gnepa, Jonathan Peterson, Sirena Williams and Kim Conley were among the top finishers for the Aggies at the conference championships this weekend in Northridge, Calif. UC Davis will now send its qualifiers to the NCAA Division I West Regional Finals from May 30 to 31 to see who will advance to the NCAA Championships in June.

Swarbrick earned a second-place finish in discus with a throw of 53.61 meters (175 feet, 11 inches) – which was less than a meter behind Cal State Northridge’s Derek Cooper, who posted a throw of 54.56 meters (179 feet).

“I was leading for the first three throws out of probably 17 to 20 throwers,” Swarbrick said. “Then the Northridge guy threw his last one and beat me. I should’ve beat him, but it’s more important for me to PR (personal record) than to get first place. I’m sure I’ll see him in Regionals.”

In the 110 meter hurdles, Trice and Gnepa were forced to wait over an hour to begin their event because the temperature exceeded 100 degrees.

But the heat didn’t faze the Aggie men’s hurdlers.

Trice earned the only other second-place finish for the Aggies with a run of 14.06, while the men’s Big West Conference Player of the Week, Polly Gnepa, was right on his heels at a time of 14.12 – good for third place in the event.

Both Trice and Gnepa were behind the leader, as Matador Thomas Ross put nearly .3 seconds between himself and the pursuing Aggies with his run of 13.77 seconds.

Before Saturday’s finals, Trice moved to No. 3 on the Aggie record list when he ran 14.03 seconds in the prelims Friday.

In long-distance action, Peterson ran the 5,000 meter race and earned a third-place finish with his run of 15:01.24. Chris Ashley of UC Santa Barbara crossed the line first at 14:49.90. Still a freshman, Peterson has flashed the ability to win the event before his time at UC Davis is said and done, having clocked in at 14:20.70 in the same event two weeks earlier.

In the women’s events, Williams finished in third place with her run of 14.19 in the 100 meter hurdles. Just recently on May 10, Williams ran 13.93 seconds to earn the UC Davis record for that event.

Conley, who was also delayed by the heat in Northridge, earned a third-place finish in the 1,500 meter with a run of 4:25.11, only about two seconds behind the leader, UC Riverside’s Brenda Martinez (4:22.90).

But as they say in The Wizard of Oz, “there’s no place like home,” and for the third consecutive year, the Cal State Northridge women claimed the Big West title at home, while the men finished second – just behind Long Beach State.

UC Davis, competing in its first ever Division I season, finished in seventh place out of the eight Big West teams competing for both the men and women overall.

The men scored only 70 points for the event while the leader – Long Beach State – amassed 159. The Aggie women totaled 59 points and were only one point behind the sixth-place UC Santa Barbara.

 

MATT MILLER can be reached at sports@californiaaggie.com.

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