UCSB’s Katie Camarena has been covering new ground even when in familiar territory.
“This is where I grew up,” she said of Friday’s track-and-field road trip to the Sound Running Collegiate Invite in Irvine. “On the way down, I was pointing out things from high school, so it was very special. It was nice to be back.”
Fast times from the senior from San Juan Hills High highlighted the meet for UCSB. Camarena ran the second-fastest 1500-meter race in school history with a clocking of 4:17.85. The Big West Conference rewarded her performance with its Track and Field Athlete of the Week Award.
Camarena, whose previous best of 4:24.68 had ranked seventh all-time, now only trails the record of 4:15.39 set in 2019 by former teammate Jenna Hinkle.
“Hopefully we can fill her shoes,” she said of Hinkle, who now serves as an assistant coach at UCSB. “We also have Astrid Rosvall, and we can do pretty well in the 15K together.”
Rosvall got trapped in the back of the field during the early stages of Friday’s 1500. She made up for lost time, however, to move up the length of the field. She caught her Gaucho teammate just past the 600-meter mark.
Camarena poised right on her shoulder, with the rest of the field almost a full 100-meters behind during the last stages. She then sprinted past Rosvall in the final strides to get the win.
“Katie and Astrid were phenomenal in the 1500,” coach Darius Kelly said, “and they looked like they had more in the tank.”
It was Rosvall’s presence that actually prompted Camarena to enter the 1500 on Friday night.
“I was on the fence about actually racing, and then we decided to jump in and do it because we haven’t been able to run together,” Camarena said. “It definitely feels good and gives me confidence going forward.”
Rosvall’s second-place time of 4:18.53 shattered her previous best of 4:25.55 and moved her into third place all-time at UCSB.
“I was really hoping to go under 4:20 — it’s been a goal for a long time,” she said.
The junior from Stockholm, Sweden won the 800 at the Irvine meet in a time of 2:07.34
The Gauchos’ dynamic duo had little time to rest on their laurels, competing less than 24 hours later in Saturday’s Mustang Quad Meet in San Luis Obispo. Rosvall’s time of 2:06.70 in the 800 moved her past Hinkle and into third place in UCSB’s record books. Camarena was second in 2:08.64 — the fifth-fastest 800 in Gaucho history.
Camarena redshirted last year after having won the 2019 Big West Conference championship in the steeplechase. She also placed second in the 5000 and third in the 1500 at that league meet.
Rosvall, for one, is glad to have her back after a year’s hiatus.
“It’s great to always have each other at every workout, and now racing together,” she said. “This was Katie’s first race back in a uniform, so it was fun.”
Camarena has high hopes for the rest of the season. She ranks sixth nationally in the 1500 while Rosvall ranks eighth.
“The sky’s the limit,” Camarena said. “This is the fittest I’ve ever been … There’s no doubting it at this point.”