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Davis, California

Monday, May 20, 2024

Track dominates on Picnic Day

The air was electric as fans watched the Aggies host the Woody Wilson Classic Saturday. In the last home event of the season, they did not disappoint.

“Our seniors realized that it’s their last day on their home track,” said women’s coach Deanne Vochatzer. “All their families came. A lot of alums came to see the new Aggies run too. That brought out our best.”

Both the men and women’s track and field teams combined to post wins in 15 events and to break nearly 30 season-records.

This performance is even better when considering that the Aggies have been in a slump recently. Last week, men’s coach Jon Vochatzer mentioned that the Aggies were still waiting for someone to take charge. This week, they stepped up to the plate.

“We didn’t get things done last week in Arizona,” Vochatzer said. “We did today. It was excellent because they rose to the occasion.”

In their last appearance at home, the Aggie seniors made their impact early and often.

Senior Kyle Suarez took first in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 9:16.22.

Seniors Matt Roberts and Ben Johnson also came up big. Roberts had a strong performance in the javelin as he posted a distance of 191-feet, 2 inches.

Johnson, running the 800-meter race for the first time in two years, took second with a time of 1:54.26.

UC Davis again showcased its talent in the hurdles as Nolan Frazier took the top spot in 400 at 54.01 and Polly Gnepa finished first in the 100 hurdles with a time of 13.90.

“Polly Gnepa did a great job in the hurdles.” Vochatzer said. “He ran in the mid 14 seconds last week and comes back with a 13.90. I’m thinking, ‘Oh my God!'”

The women were also buoyed by their seniors.

Kristin Arkin, who finished at 4:38.39, led a 1-2 finish in the 1500 and barely beat out teammate Abigail Gallaher.

In addition, Stephanie Eckels took first in the triple jump as she leapt to 39-5.25.

Though the seniors dominated, it was a sophomore by the name of Lauren Wallace who highlighted the women’s performance. She placed first in the 800 with a new career-best time of 2:11.00.

“This is her first year of running the 800,” Deanne Vochatzer said. “It was another breakthrough performance.”

Also of note is the throwers’ rebound from past performances.

“Today, nearly all our throwers broke personal records,” Vochatzer said. “The coaches were astonished and wondered where that came from.”

Competing as an unattached entry, Chid Onyewueny led a one-two finish in shot put. Onyewuenyi and Ashley Hearn finished with distances of 48-8.75 and 40-10.5 respectively.

Hearn also took the second spot in the discus throw, posting a distance of 146-7.

“Hearn threw really well today,” Deanne Vochatzer said. “She throws well in practice, and she’s learning how to do that in big meets, too.”

Having proven their talent and ability, the Aggies hope to showcase themselves in the looming Big West Conference and NCAA Championships.

“We always need to improve,” Deanne Vochatzer said, “Still, I am really happy with where the team is at.”

MATT WANG can be reached at sports@theaggie.org.


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