The championship rounds of any event are usually when athletes either shine in the spotlight or wither under the heat of the moment. The tense nature and finality of the event lends itself to athletes who simply crack under the spotlight.
This, however, was not the case for the UC Davis women’s track and field team, who recently claimed their second straight Big West conference title. The Aggies simply dominated the competition, finishing with a total team score of 172.50 points. This was a full 44 points ahead of second-place finisher UC Santa Barbara.
“Today’s championship outcome serves as a very satisfying conclusion to a year and season structured around the achievement of the highest team objective,” said Aggie coach Drew Wartenburg. “The goal for our women’s team was to bring both a balanced and deep lineup to the conference meet, and event outcomes went as projected for the most part.”
UC Davis did indeed manage to win many events in the championships. The 4×400 relay team reclaimed its title with a time of 3:37.89. The relay team consisted of seniors Lauren Wallace, Kayla Carter, Emily Bush and sophomore Raquel Lambdin.
Wallace had a pretty good day overall, with the 4×400 relay victory and school record-breaking 800-meter race. She ran an impressive 2:03.39 in the 800. Wallace was lengths ahead of the second-place finisher, also a UC Davis runner, junior Shanie Landen, who ran a personal best 2:07.41.
Senior pole vaulter Emily Bush won the conference title and broke the school record, which she previously owned as well, on her way to victory. Bush cleared 4.05 meters, or roughly 13.29 feet, breaking her personal best of 3.80 meters or roughly 12.46 feet.
Things simply fell into place for the Aggies as they dominated their opponents. One such example was sophomore sprinter Ashley Marshall, who could do no wrong in the final heats. She set school records on her way to claiming two conference titles, in the 100- and 200-meter sprints.
Marshall dominated the field in the 100-meter with a time of 11.34 seconds. This time was blazingly fast and tied the Big West conference record time.
After a brief resting period of less than an hour, Marshall came back to race the 200-meter. She came into the race feeling confident, running a 23.33 in the 200-meter qualifying heats the day before the finals.
She did not disappoint, as her time of 23.25 seconds broke the UC Davis record once again. Marshall claimed another conference title with this time. Not only did she claim the title for the women’s 100- and 200-meter, but her time qualified her for the International Association of Athletics Federation’s World Championship in Moscow.
To cap off an amazing season, Marshall was also given the Big West female track Athlete of the Year award. Marshall becomes the second straight Aggie to win the award, joining senior Sarah Sumpter.
UC Davis’ track and field success is not simply a result of having superior athletes, but the success is also a direct reflection of the hard work of the athletes and the guidance of coach Drew Wartenburg. Coach Wartenburg was acknowledged for his hard work as the conference bestowed upon him the Big West Coach of the Year award for the second year in a row. This joins the collection of awards he has earned, including two Big West Coach of the Year awards in cross-country.
Overall, the Aggies have had a fantastic season. With the Big West team title and eight individual Big West titles, UC Davis’ women’s track and field athletes are champions as the season draws to a close. Fans hope that the Aggies will work hard and repeat next year, claiming a possible third straight Big West team title along the way.
KENNETH LING can be reached at email@example.com.