Cal track and field to start outdoor season at home

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Ariel Hayat/File

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Just as it was starting to get comfortable running on indoor, 200-meter tracks, the Cal track and field teams will be shifting gears and hosting the California Outdoor Opener on Saturday.

The California Outdoor Opener is one of only three meets the teams will host all season.  At Edwards Stadium, the teams will be welcoming full squads from Long Beach State, Nevada and UC Davis, as well as partial teams from University of San Francisco and Stanford.

Last week at the MPSF Indoor Championships, the Bears had impressive performances in both the men’s and the women’s distance medley relays. Not only that, but junior Eugene Hamilton III rebroke the school record he set in the 800-meter run at the Husky Classic this year, and sophomore Peter Simon broke the school record in shot put.  Simon, sophomore Bethan Knights and sophomore Isabella Marten will be competing at the NCAA Indoor Championships next weekend.

Events that will be present at the California Outdoor Opener that don’t exist in indoor track include discus, hammer and javelin. Furthermore, the sprint and hurdle events will be slightly longer.

With the few new field events, senior javelin-thrower Scott Chiesa and freshman discus-thrower Kendall Mader will finally be able to compete. Otherwise, most of the same athletes who competed at MPSF, except those preparing for NCAAs, will be put on the track Saturday, even if they are running in different events.

The Outdoor Opener is a scoring meet so the Bears will be trying to cover as many events as possible.

“Long Beach State brings a good number of sprinters and jumpers. Davis and San Francisco have some good middle distance people,” said Cal track and field director Tony Sandoval. “Honestly, I think most of the competition will be to run against the clock.”

It may not be as easy as Sandoval thinks. Long Beach State’s teams also broke multiple school records last week at the MPSF Championships and are looking to maintain their momentum going into this weekend. Additionally, UC Davis, who participated in the Chico Multi Event Classic last weekend, gained some experience competing outdoors before heading to Berkeley for the Bears’ Outdoor Opener.

The meet will be a nice break from all the tiring traveling the teams have been doing to Washington and New Mexico during the indoor season. Based on their successful performances last week, Cal is expected to come out strong again Saturday at the Outdoor Opener and show that their accomplishments at MPSF were not a fluke.

Lucy Schaefer covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].