Westmont Connections to USA Track and Field Trials

Submitted by: Ron Smith - June 30th, 2016

 

Barbara Nwaba, USA heptathlon champion, competing at Westmont where she trains.

Barbara Nwaba, USA heptathlon champion, competing at Westmont where she trains.

With an opportunity to compete in the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro as a prize, the 2016 USA Track and Field Trials begin today in Oregon. Of local interest are several multi-event coaches and athletes with ties to Westmont.

The primary reason for these connections is Santa Barbara Track Club (SBTC) director and coach Josh Priester, who also serves as an assistant coach for Westmont Track and Field. In his role at Westmont, Priester coached Becky Collier to an NAIA Women’s Heptathlon national championship.

Under Preister’s leadership, the SBTC, which trains year round at the Westmont Track, has qualified four athletes for the USA Trials – one in the men’s decathlon and three in the women’s heptathlon.

Heading the list of SBTC athletes is Barbara Nwaba, the 2015 USA Champion in the women’s heptathlon. Nwaba leads the list of qualifiers with a mark of 6,500 points. Also competing in the heptathlon from the SBTC are Lindsay Lettow, the 10th qualifier at 6,023 points and Lindsay Schwarz, the 13th qualifier at 5,998 points.

Additionally, SBTC’s Chari Hawkins is the first alternate in the women’s decathlon.

SBTC is represented in the men’s decathlon by Tom FitzSimons who is the 14th qualifier with a mark of 7,791 points. Derek Masterson is the second alternate in the event.

Ashton Eaton, the world champion and world record holder in the men’s decathlon, also has a strong connection to Westmont. He and his wife Brianne Theisen-Eaton train at Westmont for two months each spring under the guidance of legendary multi-events coach Harry Marra. Eaton is the top decathlon qualifier and the heavy favorite at the event.

Last month, Westmont held the inaugural Harry Marra Multis, which served as a last chance qualifying opportunity for USA Track and Field Trial hopefuls.

Theisen-Eaton will compete in the Canadian Track and Field Championships to be held July 7-10 in Edmonton. She is the reigning Commonwealth Games champion in the women’s heptathlon and world champion in the women’s indoor pentathlon.

The men’s decathlon at the USA Trials will be held Saturday and Sunday, July 2 and 3. The women’s heptathlon is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday, July 9 and 10. The top three from each multi will earn a trip to Rio de Janeiro, provided they have met the Olympic minimum qualifying mark.