Maier finishes third at NCAAs

Although there were no personal records set this past week at Drake Stadium in Des Moines, Iowa, three of the seven Bears who qualified for the NCAA Outdoor Championships placed in the top 10 of their events. Junior Deborah Maier completed her outstanding 2012 season with a third place finish, matching the top NCAA 10K performance in Cal history.

Maier led for most of the race before Texas A&M’s Natosha Rogers and Wichita State’s Aliphine Tuliamuk surpassed her to set the pace. She crossed the line in 32:47.20, trailing behind Rogers and Tuliamuk by six seconds or less.

Although Maier missed her personal best at the Payton Jordan Invitational on Apr. 29 by a large gap of 35 seconds, and she narrowly missed the times of two of her opponents that day, Maier still managed to place in the NCAA top three for the 10,000 meters. Her third place finish matches the top NCAA 10K performance for the Bears, achieved by Kirsten O’Hara in 1988.

Maier’s superior season began with an 11th place finish at the NCAA cross country meet, which tied for the best result in school history. She later earned national runner-up honors in the 3000 and 5000 meters at the NCAA indoor meet, becoming the first Cal runner to score in two individual events in 22 years. During the outdoor season, Maier yet again broke a school record after running her first 10K meters at the Payton Jordan Invitational, becoming the third-fastest 10K collegian of all-time.

Along with Maier, the Bears had bright spots in high jumper Harrison Steed and women’s 5K runner Chelsea Reilly. Steed set a Cal personal record with a clearance of 7-2.50, finishing eighth on Thursday and ninth on Cal’s all-time performer list in the men’s high jump.

Senior Chelsea Reilly, who owns a PR from the Payton Jordan Invitational, concluded her college career with a solid ninth place finish on Saturday. Reilly garnered her best ranking ever in an individual event at a national meet with a 16:11.37 time.

None of the seven individuals who represented Cal track and field matched their lifetime PRs set prior to the final NCAA meet of the season. Most of their performances this past week were actually topped by those at the NCAA West Preliminary Rounds.

Senior Brian Carmichael qualified for his first NCAA Championship meet with a clearance of 7-1.50 in the high jump during the preliminary rounds. However, after passing through the first three heights this past Thursday, Carmichael topped out at 7-0.50, ending his NCAA career with a 15th place finish.

Redshirt freshman Scott Esparza took 21st in the hammer, while junior Chad Jones finished 24th in the triple jump. Esparza and Jones both saw their seasons end before advancing to the final rounds in their respective fields, despite having set personal bests two weeks earlier during the preliminary rounds.

Cal’s performance this year at the NCAA championships shows a slight overall improvement over last year, when two of the five athletes who qualified also placed in the top 10.

Though Reilly and Carmichael will graduate, most other Cal competitors from this year’s championship can return for next year’s meet.