When the Aggies took the track at the NCAA Division I West Region Track and Field Championships in Northridge this weekend, they already had their sights set on Des Moines, Iowa – home of the NCAA Championships.
With the regional now in the books, the team can officially look toward Des Moines. But unfortunately, no Aggie will be making the trip past Northridge this season.
“I can’t be too disappointed,” said men’s head coach Jon Vochatzer. “Everything was new to us. It was a new adventure…. The talent level at the regional was unbelievable. It was a real eye-opener for the kids to go out there and compete against other schools.”
In order to qualify for the NCAA Championships, individuals must post a top-five finish in their given event. No Aggie finished higher than Jah Bennett, who tied for seventh in the men’s high jump.
“That was some unbelievable jumping,” Vochatzer said. “To get seventh in that field was really outstanding for him, and I’m really proud of Jah.”
The season of arguably the most outstanding Aggie came to a close before the weekend could even begin. Senior Kim Conley, who broke multiple school records this campaign, was forced to skip her 5,000-meter race due to illness.
“We felt so bad for Kimmy. She was ready to go – focused and ready to go,” Vochatzer said. “Then she got up and she got breakfast, and by 11 a.m. she got sick. A bug hit her and put her out of the race. It was just really, extremely terrible for her.
“She had a great season. She was really, really ready to go, but then she got hit with a bug, and she couldn’t go on. She was just crushed that she couldn’t compete.”
Other top finishers for UC Davis include sophomore Jazz Trice and freshman Ray Green, who finished ninth in the 110-meter high hurdle and 12th in the triple jump, respectively. Junior Matt Swarbrick took 14th-place honors in the discus throw.
With the team’s inaugural Division I season in the books, UC Davis now looks for improvement next year.
“I thought we had a good season,” Vochatzer said. “The Big West Championships was a real disappointment for us, but we’re looking forward to next year. We have a good idea of what we need to retool on and what to expect. We’ll have a much better attitude and a much better focus, and I think we will be better off.”
ADAM LOBERSTEIN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.