Ristic puts Cal track and field on the board at NCAAs

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Since the conclusion of the critically acclaimed TV show “Breaking Bad,” Albuquerque, N.M., has flown under the radar. With the NCAA Indoor Championships this weekend, the city surged back into the spotlight — at least for those who follow collegiate track and field.

Cal track and field sent a squad of three to the NCAA Indoor Championships, consisting of Chioma Amaechi, Hammed Suleman and Milan Ristic. Each of the participants was up against a field of the 16 best athletes in his or her event, making for an extremely competitive meet. In the end, only Ristic was able to put Cal on the board, accounting for all three of its points by placing sixth in the 60-meter hurdles.

Suleman qualified for both the long jump and the triple jump but was unable to advance to the finals for either event. He finished 14th in the triple jump with a mark of 49-10.00 — despite having placed 12th in the exact same event three years ago — and 10th in the long jump, with a mark of 24-11.75. Suleman’s performance in the triple jump was largely a result of his struggles with fouls, with two of his three attempts wasted by fouling. The same problem plagued him during his 2011 NCAA Indoor Championships performance.

Amaechi’s performance this weekend was arguably the most surprising. She made a name for herself on Feb. 14 in Seattle, when she posted of a mark of 71-4.25 in the women’s weight throw. Her performance was a new school record and earned her a first-place title at the Husky Indoor Invitational meet. This weekend, she too faced foul problems and finished 16th with a 59-7.00 throw.

“NCAA qualifying flights are always tenuous, especially in the field events,” said Tony Sandoval, director of track and field, to Cal Athletics. “Both Hammed and Chioma had monster marks in their first-round attempts but unfortunately fouled.”

In the final round of the 60-meter hurdles, Ristic recorded a time of 7.68 seconds, just 0.1 seconds short of the eventual champion, Omar McLeod from Arkansas. His final time succeeded a 7.67 performance in the preliminary round that earned him fourth in his heat.

“Milan’s race was a blanket finish from third to sixth with just 0.07 seconds separating those places,” Sandoval said to Cal Athletics. “I’m encouraged with his consistency with his last four races capped off with a good indoor 200. Because of his strength, he’ll be even better at the 110s outdoors.”

Kapil Kashyap covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected]