Event: NCAA West Regionals
Where: Hayward Field – Eugene, Ore.
When: Friday and Saturday; all day
Who to watch: Newly crowned Big West Conference 110m hurdle champion Jazz Trice is ready for the NCAA West Regional Championships.
While most athletes struggle all season to hit the regional mark, Trice has met or exceeded the 14.30 standard in every race he’s run this season. His best of 13.65 puts him at No. 3 in the region, as well as No. 11 in the nation.
As if being one of the top hurdlers in the nation in addition to being a full-time student isn’t enough, Trice is also an active part of the UC Davis Theatre and Dance Department.
“It takes a ton of time management and focus,” Trice said. “I’ve spent many plane and bus rides to and from track meets memorizing lines or learning lyrics to songs for a play or audition. I’d ask a teammate to help me learn a script, go cheer and compete in my events, then pick up my script again.
“A typical day for me involves four hours of class, three hours of practice, two more hours of class, then five hours of rehearsal every night. It sounds overwhelming, but I love constantly being busy and doing as much as I can in everything I’m involved in.“
Did you know? Junior Russ Pfaff has more than just a national berth on the line this Saturday at Hayward Field. He’s looking to break the 38-year-old steeplechase school record of 8:15.84 by Ed Haver, also set at Hayward Field.
The difference? The track surface.
“He broke the steeple record at a dirt track Oregon in 1971,” Pfaff said. “It’s been almost 40 years. That’s amazing.“
Preview: While most of the team is done for the season, there is a very strong Aggie contingent headed for the West Regionals this weekend in hopes of earning berths to the NCAA National Championships.
“This group of eight guys is the cream of the crop,” said coach Jon Vochatzer. “Those are our guys who are going to go up there and get something done. … There’s not one guy in that group that doesn’t have the capability to go to the national championships.“
The top five finishers at Regionals automatically qualify for the national meet to be held in Fayetteville, Ark. two weeks later. Additional athletes will earn at-large selection based on their finish in the finals and their national rankings.
UC Davis athletes who will be participating and their regional seed are: No. 3 Trice and No. 8 Polly Gnepa (110m hurdles), No. 4 Alex Wilright and No. 9 Thomas Phillips (400m hurdles), No. 4 Pfaff (steeplechase), T-No. 9 Ben Nelson (high jump) and T-No. 21 Ethan Ostrom and Jaime Feaster (pole vault).
They’re ready to go.
“I asked [Pfaff] today, ‘What are your thoughts on the race?'” Vochatzer said. “He said, ‘Coach, I’m going to win it.‘ And they’re all like that.“
– Alex Wolf-Root