Cal track and field fails to earn automatic NCAA qualifiers at University of Washington Invitational

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While the city of Seattle geared up for the Super Bowl, a nine-member squad of Cal field athletes in town for the University of Washington Invitational over the weekend fell short of their super goal: posting results that would qualify some Bears for the NCAA Indoor Championships in March.

Before the meet, head coach Tony Sandoval singled out junior Jaci Powell as a potential qualifier, and she posted her third-best result ever in the women’s pentathlon. But her score of 3,460 points didn’t meet the NCAA standard of 3,847 points, so Powell will look to qualify at one of the many remaining meets this season. Scoring in the pentathlon is based on a combination of results in the five events: the 60-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, the long jump and the 800-meter run. Every athlete receives a number of points in each event based on the distance or time she posts.

Powell’s best finishes came in the 800 meters — she finished fourth in her heat, the faster of the two — and the shot put. In both events, Powell was just shy of personal records.

The best result of the meet for Cal came when sophomore Grace Beaudoin held off a field of 17 competitors to take home the title in the women’s high jump. Beaudoin jumped 1.70 meters, or about 5 feet 7 inches. The NCAA standard is 1.77 meters, meaning she missed the mark by about 2.8 inches. Beaudoin’s teammate, sophomore Tara Lookabaugh, tied for second in the event. Lookabaugh set a personal record with a jump of 1.65 meters.

Cal also did well in both the men’s and women’s weight throws. Redshirt sophomore Isaac Dan, competing in the men’s weight throw for the first time, finished with a throw of 17.54 meters, about 57 feet 5 inches, placing fifth. In the women’s weight throw, junior Chioma Amaechi, the Cal record holder in the event, finished third with a throw of 19.30 meters, or about 63 feet 3 inches. The men use a 35-pound ball with a triangle-shaped handle attached, while the women’s weight is the same structure, but weighs 20 pounds. The athletes swing the weight overhead before spinning and letting go of the weight.

In the women’s shot put, Amaechi finished fourth with a throw of 15.09 meters, unable to defend her title from the previous year’s University of Washington Invitational.

Some of the team’s younger members put up promising marks over the weekend. Freshman Emma McCarthy cleared 3.51-meters in the pole vault, or about 11 feet 7 inches, and placed 11th. Sophomore Victoria Rische cleared 3.96 meters, a personal record, to finish third in the event. Rische came very close to clearing the next height.

In the men’s high jump, sophomore Noel Frazier cleared 2.14 meters, or about 7 feet 7 inches — matching his best-ever jump — to finish third. Frazier’s senior teammate Nick Ridge finished tied for fifth in the event with a jump of 2.09 meters.

So while the Bears won’t be celebrating like Seahawks fans, the team does have some promising results they can try to build on for the rest of the indoor track season.

Shannon Carroll covers baseball. Contact her at [email protected].