TRACK: Itos Aikhionbare and Nick jennings won their respective track events at the Steve Scott Invitational on Sunday.
Seniors competed in their final home collegiate meet on April 28 during the 19th annual Adidas/Steve Scott Invitational.
Pole-vaulter Nick Jennings went out with a bang as he ended his UCI career with a first place finish in his event.
“Because I knew it was my last meet here, I really pulled out all of the stops,” Jennings said. “I really tried to get back as far as I could, I really tried to hit it as hard as I could and run as fast as I could, just to make sure that when I was done, no matter if I won or lost, I could tell myself that I really put myself out there.”
Jennings and the seniors gave a motivational talk at Friday’s practice. Sophomore teammate Marie Brashears, who competed in the 400 on Saturday, was inspired.
“[Jennings] was talking about how he was in love with pole vault and how he has overcome things that have happened to him. Despite those things he’ll still be pole-vaulting for the rest of his life. The passion that he exuded was so inspirational,” Brashears said. “He didn’t choose pole vault, pole vault chose him.”
“I told them we’re here because we love being here,” Jennings said. “We take the time and put in the effort, tears, blood and sweat, to be out here because we love our sport so much. I told [the team] that because I’m a fifth-year now I realize how much I do love it and how much I’m going to miss it because you only go through it once.”
As Jennings led the ’Eaters both on and off the field, the ’Eaters competed against local teams such as Cal State Northridge, Cal State Fullerton, Long Beach State and UNLV. UCI was also host to athletes competing unaffiliated and athletes that call Canada home.
On Saturday, UCI sophomore Trevor Lawrence took 9th place in the hammer throw to become the Anteater with the eighth-best throw in school history with a mark of 168-7.
Junior Lacey Surak took first in the javelin throw with a 133-6 mark as senior teammate Chelsea Pham took fifth at 119-2.
For the seventh-fastest time in UCI history, senior Nicole Mendoza finished in second place in the 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 11:29.52.
Coming in fifth in the hammer throw, freshman Bridget Devaney finished with a mark of 156-9 to make her the Anteater with the fourth-best mark all-time. Itos Aikhionbare took seventh with a mark of 154-2.
In Jennings’ favorite event, sophomore pole-vaulter Kate Johnson took eighth in her event at 10-6.
While Jennings finished his career on a high note, he wanted to make sure that he had fun doing it.
“I knew that if I put too much pressure on myself to win or do anything like that I probably wouldn’t so I really came out here just to have a good time — really enjoy myself,” said Jennings. “It’s my last meet, I won’t ever come and jump here again as an athlete, so I thought I’d come out here and have fun this time.”
Brashears regards Jennings’ speech, along with his career, as inspirational “not just for this season, but for our whole careers here at UCI.”
Jennings noted that he will look back on this past weekend with fondness.
“I’m going to remember how fun it was to watch my teammates jump and just how much fun it is,” Jennings said. “You put a lot of pressure on yourself to be a Division I athlete, but you forget how much fun it is just to be out here.”
With a first place finish in his event, Jennings brought a lot more home than just the pole vault at the invitational — he brought home a solid UCI career for the blue and gold.