Cal track and field gives strong performances at Brutus Hamilton Open and Challenge

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Karen Chow/Staff

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The bell for the final lap rang out throughout the stadium. Athletes competing in other events across the field turned their heads. This marked the final lap of one of the most anticipated races at this weekend’s Brutus Hamilton Open and Challenge, the women’s 1,500-meter. At this point, sophomore Bethan Knights was neck and neck with Arizona’s Claire Green. In the last 100 meters, two Bears, senior Sydney Gray and junior Georgia Bell, sped up and tightened the contest. Sticking her neck out at the last second, Knights held on to first place, with a time of 4:24.08, but the top four all finished within one second of each other.

“I tend to get so excited to just be done and start sprinting,” Knights said. “I wanted to focus on racing smart and having fun with it.”

This year, unlike years past, both the men’s and women’s teams took home the win in the collegiate challenge Saturday. The men won by a landslide, beating the next-closest team, New Mexico, 242.5 to 83. The women’s competition was a bit closer, but they still managed to win handily, 168 to UTEP’s 117.

The meet began Friday with the open portion, which allowed unattached and junior college athletes to compete. Cal accumulated five wins, including freshman Kai Benedict in the 1,500-meter, sophomore Cameron Tu in the men’s 5,000-meter and redshirt junior Xochitl Navarrete in the women’s 5,000-meter race.

The majority of Cal athletes, however, waited to compete until Saturday. But some participated both days to emulate the stress their bodies might face later in the season after competing in longer meets, such as the Pac-12 Championships or NCAA Regionals.

One of these athletes was junior Khalfani Muhammad, who won the 100-meter dash Friday with a time of 10.72. He ran the 100-meter again Saturday but placed third, even though his time of 10.54 was faster than Friday’s.

The winner of the men’s 100-meter dash Saturday was former Bear Jahvid Best, who set many records as a Cal running back and went on to play for the Detroit Lions. He retired from the NFL after numerous concussions and switched over to running track.

Other athletes that competed on both days were freshman Connor Meech and redshirt senior Jonte Turner. On Friday, Meech won the 400-meter hurdles, while he placed second in the same event Saturday, despite improving his time to 52.46 seconds. Between Friday and Saturday, Turner dropped his 400-meter hurdle time by six seconds and finished shortly behind Meech.

Taking the top three places in the men’s shot put, sophomore Peter Simon, junior Sullivan Parker and freshman Malik McMorris ruled the competition. Simon, who finished first, threw for a distance of 18.78 meters. Junior Aaron Russell won the men’s discus throw with a distance of 52.82 meters.

Cal swept both of the triple jump competitions, with sophomores Isabella Marten and Karsten Wethington tallying wins.

Because the Brutus Hamilton is the last home meet of the season, there is a senior recognition ceremony, which would not be complete without heartfelt hugs and tears from athletes and coaches alike.

“As a department, as a staff, as a team we did a great job this weekend,” said Cal track and field director Tony Sandoval. “For us to win both the men’s and the women’s meets is pretty special. The women usually fall a little bit short, so this is their chance to do a victory lap.”

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