The Aggies have arrived.
A year after its seventh-place finish at its first Big West Conference Championships, UC Davis took fifth in a very closely contested meet.
The Aggies scored 94 points, leaving them less than 10 points out of third place.
“We’re finally where we can be in the mix,” said coach Deanne Vochatzer. “After what we did last year, barely scoring 50 points, this is a big step in the right direction. We’re just going to get better.“
Junior Chid Onyewuenyi won the hammer throw in dominating fashion. Her best throw of 55.99m – 4m ahead of second place. All five of her legal throws were good enough to take the win.
“It feels good, knowing that all my hard work is slowly starting to pay off,” Onyewuenyi said. “[The distance] was just okay. I knew I had a 57 to 58 meter throw in me, but my timing was just a little off.“
With very little time to recover, Onyewuenyi headed back out for the shot put. She finished fifth in the event with a throw of 13.67m.
“It was a bit tiring,” Onyewuenyi said. “As you get further and further into the season, your body is trying so hard to salvage itself. [The shot put] was just a mixture of that and just being technically off.“
Sophomore Ashley Hearn was also in the event, taking third with a throw of 50.25m. The day before, Hearn threw the discus 44.64m to take fifth.
While Onyewuenyi got the only win, there were a slew of other top performances. Sirena Williams took second place in the 100m hurdles, clocking a 13.70 to edge third by two hundredths of a second.
“She was third to qualify,” Vochatzer said. “In the race, she didn’t get out very well. With four hurdles to go, she was in fifth place, and she fought back up to second place. That was a new school record for her.“
While most of the track finals were on Saturday, three freshmen – Sarah Sumpter, Krista Drechsler and Anna Smidebush – ran the first 10,000m of their careers on Friday, taking fourth, sixth and eighth, respectively.
“A highlight for me as a coach was watching the three freshmen in the 10,000m,” Vochatzer said. “It was an awesome race. For them to go four-six-eight in their first ever 10k – let alone collegiate conference championships – was phenomenal.“
Another huge event on day one was the pole vault, in which freshman Lauren Radke and junior Tessa Frazer scored some key points. Second through fourth all cleared 3.70m, but Radke got second in virtue of having no misses at lower heights. Frazer cleared 3.55m for fifth.
Also on day one, junior Ugo Eke posted a phenomenal 54.60 in the 400m to qualify for the regional championships, as well as the finals the next day. In the finals, she placed third in 54.77. These were the first two times all season she had cracked the 55-second barrier.
Senior Lorin Scott had a great meet, doubling in the 1,500m and 5,000m. After being within less than a second of the regional qualifying mark in the 1,500m the last two years, Scott finally clocked a 4:26.76 to qualify and take third. Two hours later, she went 17:17.12 in the 5,000m to take fifth.
“The women’s side of the conference is ridiculous,“ Vochatzer said. “We made a lot of progress at this meet – a lot. You always want to do better, but the whole coaching staff is very pleased with our progress in the second year. We finally found our team.“
ALEX WOLF-ROOT can be reached at email@example.com.