Although Cal only sent one player to the Pac-12 Multi-event Championships this weekend at USC, that player managed to put in the best performance by a Bear since 2004.
Junior Jaci Powell, the only Cal athlete at the meet, was able to set three personal records on route to a fourth-place finish in the competition.
Powell competes in the heptathlon, a contest that consists of seven events — the 100-meter hurdles, 200-meter sprint, high jump, shot put, long jump, javelin throw and the 800-meter race. The athlete with the most combined points wins the competition.
Though Powell was there without her team, she found that she was still able to focus and compete at a high level.
“It’s always nice to have your team there, but then again, it’s an individual sport,” Powell said. “So I was focusing on just me.”
The first day of the competition featured four of the seven events — including two that Powell set personal records in. Powell set her first of three PRs in the 100-meter hurdles, which she ran in 14.07 seconds to earn a third-place finish.
However, Powell struggled in the high jump, finishing in last place among 10 competitors. In shot put, she could only muster a seventh-place finish.
Powell bounced back when she put together her second personal record of the day, posting a time of 24.86 seconds in the 200-meter sprint. Powell came in second to only the blazingly fast Keia Pinnick of Arizona State, who was 0.35 seconds faster.
With the first day already in the books, Powell only had three events left to improve her seventh-place standing.
“I’m competitive,” Powell said. “I don’t want to see seventh place. And I didn’t see myself staying in seventh place, because long jump and javelin are two of my better events.”
On Sunday, Powell immediately rebounded. She placed third in the long jump, and in the javelin throw, she dominated with a 145-foot toss that was enough to earn Powell her third PR and her only first place finish of the weekend.
“It’s just been going well,” Powell said of the her performance in the javelin toss. “It’s just really exciting when you’re working on these things in practice, and they come together in an event.”
In the last event of the competition, Powell placed sixth in the 800-meter race with a time of 2:23.19.
When the dust finally settled, Powell managed to jump up the ranks to a final position of fourth place in the overall point standings — just six points outside of the top three. Arizona State’s Pinnick took home the heptathlon’s top spot with a score that was a full 450 points more than Powell’s score.
Despite not being atop the leaderboard, Powell posted the best finish by a Cal athlete in the last eight years. Her total of 5351 points, which topped her previous record by more than 150 points, is the highest score a Bear has achieved since 2004.
“Some pieces didn’t go as planned, but that’s just the way this event works,” Powell said. “The score overall is a PR, and I’m happy with it.”
Contact Riley McAtee at [email protected]