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Davis, California

Sunday, November 28, 2021

Safety-minded Aggies hold back in wet Causeway duel

The UC Davis women’s track and field team dropped its third straight duel with Sacramento State on Friday, but the Hornets weren’t the only thing the Aggies were up against.

Confronted by heavy rain, blistering wind and worries of weather-induced injuries, the Aggies pulled some athletes from competition and even cancelled the pole vault altogether in their 103.5-81.5 loss at the Causeway Classic Track and Field Duel in Sacramento.

“You don’t like to be put in the position that all of us were put in,coach Deanne Vochatzer said,where, as professionals, you have to take the competition out of the hands of the athletes, but clearly [Friday] night that’s what we felt.

Despite the gloomy weather, some Aggies still did shine, most notably Ugo Eke. The junior, still recovering from a fluke ankle injury sustained in March, captured the 400m in a time of 55.66 and took second in the 200m in 25.20.

“I was very happy with my 400m,Eke said.I finally trusted myself and got out and raced from the beginning, so I do believe it’s the best 400m I’ve ever run technique wise. That said, the time wasn’t what I’d hoped for, but my goal coming into this meet was to beat Sac State. But I do intend to qualify for regionals with 54.60, so that’s next for me.

As the meet was scored 5-3-2-1with only two athletes per team able to scoreEke’s performances notched a total of eight points for the team. This tied her with senior distance runner Lorin Scott as the Aggie leader.

Scott, who has already qualified for the regional championships in the 5,000m, dominated the 1,500m, clocking 4:31.0 to beat second-placer and teammate Jenna Gailey by six seconds. Scott then doubled back in the 3,000m, taking second to Kim Conley (9:51.6) as she ran 10:03.7.

In addition to Eke, Scott and Conley, the Aggies took two wins in the field. Ashley Hearn captured the discus by over a meter with her throw of 40.82m, and Brit Bickel’s 37.14m dominated the javelin throw. Four of Bickel’s six attempts were good enough to win the competition over teammate Anikia Jackson, and she was the only competitor to break the 30m barrier on all attempts.

The final win came in the 4x100m, which was run in 47.4 to Sac State’s 48.5.

Despite these high notes, there was much about the meet as a whole that left the Aggies wanting.

“I left with a bit of a bad taste in my mouth because of professional considerations of safety,Vochatzer said.I don’t think it met the standard I was hoping for. In our coaching staff’s estimations, it was dangerous conditions. It wasn’t agreed upon by Sac State, so things turned a bit dicey. The fear for the coaching staff was palpable.

In addition to the weather, the general meet management left something to be desired, which was especially noticeable in the 400m.

“There was a freak accident, and it’s no one’s fault per se, where hurdles were left on the track and one of the Davis 400m runners was taken to the emergency room,Vochatzer said.I’m not blaming anybody, but it’s another danger signal that things had gotten out of control. The officials were light, the crews were light, and that is what happens when inclement weather gets to be scary. For me, that was my major red flag.

“For us it became the safety of our athletes was what was most important. My job is to watch out for their safety. This time, mother nature made us make a decision.

Despite all of this, many Aggies were able to leave the meet with their heads held high.

“Overall, I was very happy with the meet,Eke said.All my teammates competed very well and if [coach Vochatzer] hadn’t had to pull us out of some events for safety we would have won the meet hands down. Besides that, it was another awesome showing by the Aggies.

ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.

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