Vaulting to the Finish

Lee-Huang Chen/New University

With one final men’s event left in the Big West Championship, the men’s 4×400 meter relay, senior Napoleon Greene gathered the other three-fourths of his team: Chris Carson, Dominic Jester and Charles Jock.

“We had a meeting before the final relay and I said, ‘All of us didn’t sit on the No. 1 spot on the podium,’” Greene said. “So we made it our mission to come out here angry and hungry to get that No. 1 spot.”

After a messy baton exchange between Greene and Carson, which dropped UC Irvine’s relay team down to fifth, Jester, the third leg of the race, made sure not to lose any ground – and he didn’t. Jester handed the baton to Jock, who played catch-up throughout his stretch. With 200 meters left, Jock found himself in fourth place and that was when he made his move on the outside. Jock sprinted past UC Santa Barbara for second place and only a few feet away from the finish line, the junior was neck-and-neck with UC Davis’ Thomas Phillips. Jock used whatever was left in his tank to pull ahead of Phillips in the final inches of the race, which brought shades of Jason Lezak’s come-from-behind victory over the French in the 2008 Summer Olympics.

Jock crossed the finish line with a time of 3 minutes, 28.10 seconds for a first-place finish. Davis came in second with a time of 3:10.35 and UCSB finished third.

“We all had this burning desire to win,” Jock said. “[My teammates] put me in a position to win and all I had to do was finish strong.”

Jock, whose previous time in the 800 meters of 1:45.19 ranks third in the nation and sixth in the world, had his chance for his second first-place finish in the 800 meters, but UCSB’s Ryan Martin had other plans. Jock led for most of the race, but in the final turn Martin was stride-for-stride with Jock and managed to finish first with a time of 1:45.34. Jock finished just behind Martin with a time of 1:45.40.

Senior Colin Hacker recorded the second of two first-place finishes for the men. Hacker won the 1,500 meters with a time of 3:44.44, and teammate Sam Hyams placed third with a time of 3:46.32. Hacker also finished fourth in the 5,000 meters with a time of 14:43.83.

Junior Nick Jennings used a mark of 16-9 1/2 to finish third in the pole vault.

Sophomore transfer Ericka Nowell led the women, as she ran the 400 meters in 58.82 seconds for a first-place finish.

“I have been working really hard to improve my time because I have been running in the 60s,” Nowell said. “I have been trying really hard and it all came together today.”

Junior Amber Middleton placed third in the 100-meter with a time of 14.04 seconds. Senior Alisha Misiaita placed second in shot put with a mark of 49-6 1/2. Senior Madeline LeDuc used a mark of 40-5 1/2 for a third-place finish in the triple jump.

The men’s track team earned 79 points for an overall finish of sixth place, while the Long Beach State men placed first, collecting 177 1/2 points. The UCI women accumulated 75 points for a seventh-place finish, while the Cal State Northridge women’s track team amassed 165 1/2 points for a second straight first-place win in the Big West Championship.