The Long Beach State track and field team kicked off its first scored meet Friday, with the men claiming first place at the 27th Annual Big West Challenge at Santa Barbara with a score of 202.5 and the women earning second with a score of 178.5.
Long Beach came out on top of conference rivals Fullerton, Irvine and Santa Barbara, winning 11 events and having an athlete place in scoring position in every event.
“We definitely were the better competing team, we really brought a lot to the table, not just our depth but from our top people as well,” head coach Andy Sythe said. “We got better as a team today, no doubt about that.”
The 49ers were led by the relay teams and individual athletes who performed well throughout the day.
Senior sprinter Courtne’ Davis ran legs in the 4x100m and 4x400m relays that both placed first at the event. She also finished first in the 100m and 200m dashes, totaling four event wins for her.
Kemonie Briggs, senior sprinter, also had a busy day breaking the meet record in the long jump with a distance of 7.74m, placing second in the 400m dash and running anchor for the men’s 4x100m relay that took first place.
Senior thrower Crystal Rodriguez placed second in the hammer throw with a distance of 53.10m after being ranked fourth prior to the event. She finished one spot behind senior thrower De’ondra Young, who hit a mark of 56.36m.
Rodriguez also placed sixth in the shot put to give points to the team.
Sophomore Faris Babineaux placed fourth in the 400m dash, third in the 200m dash and competed in the men’s 4x100m and 4x400m relays.
“[Babineaux] had an amazing day for us. The kid was a freshman walk on last year, and is now coming into his own and has really developed well,” Sythe said.
The hurdlers for LBSU had a strong performance as sophomore Koty Burton finished first with a time of 14.02 in the 110m hurdles, and junior Skylin Harbin ran a lifetime best in the 110m hurdles, finishing second with a time of 13.87.
With the men finishing first, they edged out Fullerton, the defending Big West Champions and winners of the event last year. While the women didn’t take first place, they were in this exact situation last year, coming up short in this event only to go on to win the Big West Championships.
“I know our women even with a second place finish feel a lot more confident than they did going into this event,” Sythe said. “I felt like we really grew as a program today.”
After this event, the 49ers look ahead to their April schedule as the team’s throwers and pole vaulters will be traveling to La Jolla to compete in the UC San Diego Triton Invitational next Friday and Saturday.
“This team has definitely developed a hunger for the championship season,” junior sprinter Chaio Winters said. “I can see how focused everyone is at meets, and we all support one another.”