On April 2, the UC Irvine Men’s and Women’s Track and Field teams competed in the Big West Challenge Cup in Long Beach against conference opponents including Cal State Fullerton, Cal State Long Beach and UC Santa Barbara. For the second year in a row, the men’s team captured the cup and finished in first place while the women’s team finished in fourth.
The men’s team finished with 185 points, stealing the meet from CSULB by a mere two points. They were trailed by UCSB which finished with 154 points, and CSUF which finished with 120 points.
‘You can beat a man by one point or 1,000 points, but regardless, at the end of the day it’s still a W,’ said Ben Beasar, associate head coach. ‘And that W stands for all of the efforts, both seen and unseen, that allowed that victory to be possible.’
Many Anteaters contributed to the men’s team victory.
Middle distance specialist junior Ricky Barnes won two events for the men’s team. He finished first in the 1,500-meter with a time of 3 minutes, 51.43 seconds and carried that enthusiasm to the 3,000-meter, finishing at 8:19.26. Barnes credited his success to practice.
‘We feed off of each other’s strengths in practice,’ Barnes said. ‘We make each other’s victories possible by practicing together.’
Senior Scott Jarvis also led the Anteaters by posting victories in the 110-meter high hurdles with a time of 15.18 seconds and the 400-meter hurdles with a time of 53.70 seconds.
Junior Mike Beerer led UCI’s throwers, winning the hammer throw competition with a mark of 197-6. That mark gave Beerer the second-best throw in UCI history. He attributed his success to the movie ‘Predator,’ which he had watched the night before.
Sophomore sensation Dayne Comrie finished first in the 400-meter with a time of 47.97. Going into the meet, Comrie commented, ‘Our team is going to take care of business, and we are going to come out on top.’
Junior John Wratten set the bar in the high jump competition, outlasting the other jumpers with a mark of 6-10 3/4.
Despite all the individual performances, the men’s team didn’t clinch a victory until the last event of the day. UCI’s 4×400-meter relay team consisting of Jarvis, senior Omar Lopez and sophomores Storm Huie and Comrie won with a time of 3:15.90.
Each team and coach came to the Challenge Cup with the intent of taking the gold and to show their other conference foes what to expect from their team.
‘For all the teams, this is the second-biggest meet in our conference,’ said UCSB assistant coach Matt Lea. ‘We can see where we are at and make adjustments. This meet is like a tradition for the school here today, and the tradition is good because you don’t see that in track and field anymore.’
On the women’s side, UCSB won the team title with 202 points, Long Beach State placed second with 189, CSU Fullerton third with 135 and UCI fourth with 94.
The lady Anteaters had several outstanding individual performances and victories. Senior Kim Ramirez won the 800-meter race with a time of 2:11.74, a lifetime best. Her day didn’t end there, though, as she went on to compete in the 1,500-meter finishing second with a time of 4:32.28.
Irvine’s leading sprinter, sophomore Orlisha Henlon, finished in the 100-meter with a time of 12.16 the 200-speed with a 24.92. Her times in both sprints were good enough for third place in each race.
A few hours prior to her competition, Henlon said, ‘I feel confident about today. The women’s team has been in slump. And if I can help that, I will. If I transfer what I do in practice to the meet, I’ll be fine.’
Senior Susan Purmort finished second in the 400-meter hurdles at 62.95.
Sophomore Kirsten Loftin pole vaulted to 11-11 3/4, giving her a second-place finish, also adding to the points and efforts seen on the women’s side. Loftin believes that her fervor and strength are matters of the heart, especially when it comes to athletics.
‘Heart is what drives me down the track,’ Loftin said. ‘It’s going when you want to stop, training when you want to give up and succeeding at the goals for which you’ve prepared yourself.’
Although the women’s team did not come out on top at the meet, they are still making adjustments to get back out to the track and put the pieces together for the future. For the Anteaters, it’s a matter of maturing as a team that will make it possible to succeed in the future.
‘It’s our choice to rise to the occasion,’ Henlon said. ‘Our coaches have given us the tools to succeed and execute.’