Track and field wraps up another strong season

Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER
Vincent Ta/HIGHLANDER

Coming off of a solid 2012 season for the Highlanders in track and field, there was definite pressure to put up similar success this year. Last season, the new track stadium was used for the first time and Riverside enjoyed success having three NCAA nationally-qualified athletes advance to the national tournament. This year UC Riverside will also send three stars to the NCAA National Championships, with triple jumper Ryan Swafford and long jumper Ted Hooper competing at the National Championships for a second straight year.

The season began strong, as the Highlanders were breaking records by their third meet of the year. At the Husky Classic, Hooper broke the school record for long jump that he had just set the week before while Swafford also set a new record for the third straight week by 7.5 inches, winning first place in the triple jump event.

In a dual-team event versus UC Santa Barbara, Riverside had strong individual performances, but couldn’t pull ahead as a team. Damajeria Dubose dominated the day, winning in the triple jump, long jump, 1500-meter and the 3000.

As the season progressed, more records were set and individual wins were had. Alex Smith set a school record in the indoor and outdoor shot put while senior Jazmine Lewis broke the school record in the heptathlon at the Big West Championship Heptathlon. Michael Koger also set a school record this year, etching his name into UCR history with a time of 51.32 seconds in the 400 hurdles.

Assistant track and field coach Nate Browne shared his thoughts on his team’s effort this year. “Anytime we see the hard work and dedication paying off for our top athletes we are excited and proud,” he said. The key is to get more of our athletes to believe they can achieve a high level and put in the work both in the offseason and during the year to allow for the best results to happen for them.”

Looking ahead to next season, Browne focused on fitness as a key ingredient to his team’s success. “We need to get fitter and stronger headed into the fall. Many athletes think it’s what they do during the season and yes it is important,” Browne stated. “But championships are won in the offseason when athletes are working while others are sitting down doing nothing. We had to get some new folks in here that can lift our overall competitive level and we feel we’ve done that with our recruiting class.”

The three National Championship-qualified Highlanders will be heading to Oregon for the competition this week, in which they’ll be competing with the best in the country to determine who is the top in their respective fields.

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