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Daschian, Merder, Poynter, Rahman-Davies Win Titles at BWC Finals

Daschian, Merder, Poynter, Rahman-Davies Win Titles at BWC Finals

Gockel, Izzo, Ward also earn All-Conference Honors for Cal Poly at Big West Track & Field Championships; Mustangs finish 3rd on women's side, 4th in men's standings

GOLETA, Calif. — Miranda Daschian, Alex Merder, Bobby Poynter and Abibat Rahman-Davies won conference titles Saturday at UC Santa Barbara, leading Cal Poly at the Big West Track & Field Championships on a final day that included weather delays due to lightning strikes around Pauley Track.

Cal Poly finished in third place on the women's side, tallying a total of 118 points. Cal State Fullerton won its first-ever women's trophy with 129.5, topping the host Gauchos' 123.

The Mustang men came in fourth place in the team standings, with 97.5 points. Long Beach State posted a victorious score of 169.5 points to dethrone CSF (151), denying the Titans' bid for a three-peat. It was the fifth men's team championship in the past seven years for the 49ers.

Altogether at UCSB, the Mustangs combined for 10 PRs along with 12 additional season-best performances on Day 2 alone.   


Rahman-Davies led the women's triple jump from the outset en route to going back-to-back, ultimately landing a career-best mark of 41 feet, 8.75 inches on her sixth attempt, on the way to becoming the Big West's third woman in the 36-year history of the event to repeat.

The second triple jumper in school history to collect consecutive titles for the event, Rahman-Davies moved to the top of the leaderboard with an opening attempt of 40' 10.5", holding the No. 1 spot through each round en route to outdistancing Ty Wallace of CSUN by 9.5" to defend her championship.

Improving her No. 4 ranking in program history, Rahman-Davies' effort Saturday moved her up into a tie for No. 28 in the region for NCAA Championship First Round qualifying.

Later on in the afternoon, Merder followed up his top-qualifying 1,500-meter prelims effort from Friday by winning his title with a performance of 3:52.08 — beating UC Riverside's Heinrich Van Niekerk by 46-hundredths of a second for the crown. 

Merder graduates with a PR of 3:49.73. Anthony Benitez also scored in the event, tallying a seventh-place finals debut of 3:55.62, and fellow true freshman Elias Opsahl earned ninth in 3:57.46 at his first finals.

Following a return to action after a lightning delay, Poynter won his 800-meter championship with a time of 1:51.70. The meet's No. 1 seed coming in (1:50.81), Poynter will wrap his standout debut collegiate season ranked No. 15 in the country for the 800m among freshmen.

Senior Connor Crowe competed in the 800m final for the fourth consecutive time, as he graduates tallying a fourth-place 1:53.23. Both Crowe (second leg) and Poynter (anchor), along with Jason Lewis & Tyler Esteves, returned in the finale just before 7:30 p.m., leading the Mustangs to a seventh-place 4x400m relay finish of 3:19.01.

In the last event of the night prior to the relays, Daschian won her second championship in less than 24 hours — taking the 5,000-meter title in 17:10.63 — beating UCSB rival Katie Camarena in a thrilling finish by 0.83 seconds. 

Adding to her 10,000m crown from Friday evening, Daschian achieved a rare double, becoming the conference's first woman to win both at the same meet since 2012.

Katie Izzo also made the All-Conference Team in the event, earning a third-place plaque with a performance of 17:12.43. It's Izzo's second trip to the medal stand for the 5,000m, following her title in 2016. With a PR of 16:20.09 earlier this spring, Izzo stands a strong chance to advance to regionals, set to be announced this upcoming Thursday.

Peyton Bilo also scored in the 5,000m (fourth, via 17:13.19), as did Abbey Fisk (sixth with a PR of 17:15.85) and Sierra Brill (seventh, at 17:20.59). Five teammates also competed in the 5,000, as Hannah Hull finished 15th in 17:37.22; Angela DiPentino was 18th at 17:38.71; Delaney Fitzsimmons added a 19th-place 17:39.31; Melodie Leroudier took 26th in 17:50.49; and Misty Diaz posted a 33rd-place 18:19.24.

WARD EARNS SILVER AT FIRST CHAMPIONSHIP: Mustang true freshman Kevin Ward earned second place in the men's pole vault, taking home the runner-up plaque thanks to a clearance of 16' 3.25". Ward, who improved his season-best height by a half-inch, finishes his collegiate debut within the top 75 regionally.

The pole vault also saw a duo of Mustangs tie for fourth place, as Matt Hunt and Adam Gockel both jumped 15' 9.25". It was a career-best height for Hunt, as well as a season-best result for Gockel. Enzo Sison also added an 11th-place clearance of 15' 3.5", as did Christian Valles for 12th (needing one more attempt to wrap up his season with his top mark of 2019).

GOCKEL CAPS BUSY MORNING ALMOST WINNING JAVELIN CROWN: Gockel, almost simultaneous to the aforementioned pole vault, also took second place in the men's javelin. The redshirt junior from Santa Rosa College, who joined the Mustangs with a successful decathlon background, precisely hit the 200-feet mark — just 2' 2" back of the title. Gockel, whose throw moved to No. 49 in the region for 2019, crushed his previous PR by 15' 11".

Ryan Gonter also scored in the javelin, finishing seventh with a PR of 176' 5", and Bailey Thayer was close in ninth at 171' 6".

SCRANTON PR TAKES 4TH PLACE; COLEMAN ALSO SCORES: Allison Scranton bettered her career-best shot put Saturday by over a foot, finishing fourth with a mark of 44' 8.75". She wasn't the only Mustang to score in the circle, as Emma Coleman came in sixth, throwing to 42' 7.5" — almost a seven-inch PR for the junior.

ROSS HURDLES TO SEASON-BEST WITH TOP-4 FINISH IN ONE OF HER 3 EVENTS FOR THE DAY: Mustang junior Molly Ross improved her season-best time in the 100m hurdles for the second day in a row, taking fourth place in the final, in 14.04. She almost topped her PR (14.03) which ranks No. 9 in school history.

It was the second event of the day for Ross, who earlier in the afternoon helped the Mustang women's 4x100m relay squad record a season-best time to close the year, as she teamed with Caice Lanovaz, Ann Caroline Kaseberg & Julianna Ruotolo for fifth place at 47.46 seconds. Then following the restart after the weather delay, Ross competed in her third event, adding one more point via an eighth-place finish in the 400m hurdles final, in 1:02.96.

RITTER'S 4TH-PLACE 5,000m LEADS TRIO OF SCORERS: Less than 24 hours after his second-place effort in the 10,000 meters, Jake Ritter came in fourth place for the 5,000m, earning a time of 14:41.53. He paced two more scoring teammates in the event, as Justin Robison was close in fifth place at 14:44.68, ahead of John Bennett in eighth at 14:49.85.

Three true freshmen followed in 10th, 12th & 14th place: Xian Shively in a season-best 14:58.43; Will Fallini-Haas at 15:01.74; and Benitez in his second event of the evening at 15:09.83. Merder also returned to log one more event on the heels of his earlier championship, taking 15th with a pace of 15:11.73, followed by teammates Chas Cook (21st, at 15:22.23), Sean McDermott (22nd; 15:33.13) and Benjamin Holland (24th; 15:51.60).

BRILL, THAYER CHALK UP 5TH PLACES: Brill paced a trio of Mustangs in the women's 1,500-meter final, running to a fifth-place time of 4:33.80. Hull also scored in the event, finishing with an eighth-place 4:36.71, while Leroudier came in 10th at 4:40.26.

Meanwhile, Bailey Thayer took fifth place for the men's high jump, clearing 6' 6.75", and true freshman John Walther added a 12th-place height of 6' 2.75" at the first championships of his career. It was altogether the 12th event for Thayer at the overall meet between the last two weekends, as he also scored 6,693 points in the decathlon. He'll bring a PR of 6' 8.75" into his senior year in 2020.

ROMANINI TALLIES 6TH-PLACE POINTS IN 800: Mikaela Romanini scored at the championships for a second straight year to begin her Mustang career, as the sophomore came in sixth place in the 800m final, at 2:11.20, just two-hudnredths of a second shy of her season-best time.

JONES, KASEBERG ALSO SCORE IN MULTIPLE EVENTS: Competing at his first career Big West Championship, Mustang freshman Bailey Jones took eighth place in the men's triple jump, landing a mark of 46' 10.75" on his third attempt. It was Jones' second event of the day, as earlier he helped the 4x100m relay squad (with Lewis, Esteves & VJ Obiajulu) earn a season-best time of 42.27 seconds, good for seventh.

Also in her second event of the day after the 4x1, Kaseberg scored again, adding an eighth-place point from the women's 400-meter final, in 56.61 seconds.

SMITH ALSO IN TOP 10: Cal Poly redshirt sophomore Will Smith added a 10th-place finish Saturday in the men's discus, with a mark of 163' 2", while Parker Jenks took 21st, reaching a season-best 142' 4". Smith will enter his upcoming junior year No. 10 in program history for the event, with a throw of 170' 11".

NCAA FIRST ROUND HEADS TO SACRAMENTO: The postseason will continue regionally at Sacramento State from May 23-25 for the NCAA Prelim Round. The field, comprised of Top-48 individuals per event west of the Mississippi, will be announced May 16.

From there, qualifiers (usually Top 12 per event) will join the East Region (this year hosted by North Florida in Jacksonville) in advancing to the national championships at Texas, on ESPN from June 5-8.

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