Hope Bender made a dramatic finish to her UCSB track and field career, winning the heptathlon’s final event #151; the 800 meters #151; to finish fourth overall at the NCAA Division 1 Outdoor Track and Field Championships in Austin, Tex.
Bender’s 5,955 points beat her personal-best of 5,490 and just missed the Gaucho record of 5,986 set in 2012 by Barbara Nwaba, who continued on to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games.
Bender sat in seventh place after Friday with 3,507 points with finishes ranging from 17th in the high jump and 15th in the shot put to fifth in the 100 hurdles and second in the 200 in a time of 23.63, breaking the school record of 23.69 set in 2012 by Jennifer Carey.
She began Saturday’s competition by placing fifth in the long jump with a leap of 19 feet, 91/2 inches. She followed that up with a throw of 124-1 in the javelin, placing 11th, and then waited more than four hours before running the 800.
Bender led half-way through the 800, clocking 64.80 for the first 400 meters. She was soon passed by Eric Beattie of UC Davis and Lauren Taubert of Kansas State. In the final 100 meters, however, she swung wide into lane two and slowly pull away from the field to win with a personal-best 2:10.10. That mark ranks eighth all-time at UCSB.
The heptathlon was won by Texas’ Ashtin Zamzow with 6,222 points. Tyra Gittens took second with 6,049 and Athlerley of Miami, Fla. was third with 6,014.
The fourth-place finish puts Bender on the All-America first team, a feat she also accomplished by taking sixth at the NCAA Indoors earlier this year.