Event: Big West Conference Championships
Where: Anteater Stadium – Irvine, Calif.
When: Friday and Saturday; all day
Who to watch: Junior Chid Onyewuenyi has been dominating the throws all season, and the Big West has taken note.
Onyewuenyi – who has qualified for regionals in both the hammer throw and the shot put – is ranked No. 2 in the Big West for the hammer and No. 4 in the shot. While those rankings are nice, she knows they won’t matter once the athletes enter the ring.
“You may have the best mark coming into this weekend,” said Onyewuenyi, “but it all comes down to who has the furthest mark the day we compete.“
Did you know? No Aggie has raced a 10,000m so far this season.
Three Aggies are entered in the event this weekend – Krista Drechsler, Sarah Sumpter and Anna Smidebush – and they are all freshmen.
“I’m very excited to see the three freshmen in the 10,000m,” said coach Deanne Vochatzer. “I’m looking forward to that. They’re going to have a great opportunity. The distance crew is obviously a very interesting piece.“
Preview: UC Davis took seventh at their first Big West Championships last year, and is hoping for anything but more of the same.
“We’re certainly going to be better than last year,” said Vochatzer. “The women who went last year – they know what to expect and are excited about it while last year there was no conversation to have because they had no idea.“
While final decisions won’t be made until the meet, the Aggies have a handful of athletes who have top marks in the conference.
On the track, senior Kim Conley is No. 1 in the 5,000m, second in the 1,500m and third in the 800m. Senior Lorin Scott sits at fourth in the 5,000m and sixth in the 1,500m. Senior Sirena Williams is the second seed in the 100m hurdles while junior Ugo Eke is seeded third in the 400m.
The jumps are headlined by the pole vault, which has freshman Lauren Radke and junior Tessa Fraser tied for third.
The throws look to be key in the Aggies‘ scoring. In addition to Onyewuenyi, UC Davis boasts sophomore Ashley Hearn, who is ranked third in the discus throw, fourth in the hammer and seventh in the shot
“Ashley and Chid have a big meet ahead of them because they are both in a lot of events,” said Vochatzer. “That takes a lot out of you, to do all that throwing. They are doing six full, all-out attempts in a two-hour competition for each event.“
The javelin also has two top-ranked Aggies in Anika Jackson (No. 2) and Brit Bickel (No. 5). Jackson has actually already scored for the Aggies, as her fourth place finish in the heptathlon last week gave UC Davis five points.
“It would be great to get the whole team dominating in all events,” said Onyewuenyi. “We just have to go down to Irvine and prove to the other schools that we are not the same team they stomped on last year.“
– Alex Wolf-Root