Cal track and field set to compete in Payton Jordan Invitational

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Karen Chow/File

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As Cal honored Brutus Hamilton at their invitational last weekend, Stanford will be recognizing one of their most influential coaches Sunday at the Payton Jordan Invitational. Payton Jordan was Stanford’s head track coach for 23 years, from 1957 and 1979. During this period, he also served as the 1968 Olympic track and field coach for the U.S. team, which won a total of 24 medals.

The Cal track and field teams will be traveling to Palo Alto for the second time this season to take part in the invitational, giving the team another shot at their rival Stanford. This meet traditionally signifies the end of the regular outdoor season and the beginning of the post-season championship meets.

Payton Jordan is a highly anticipated meet because there are several professional athletes that compete unattached, providing the opportunity for collegiate athletes to break personal records because of the heightened competition. This is especially true in the meet’s distance races.

For example, in the men’s 10,000-meter race, Bernard Lagat will be competing at 41 years old. Several other athletes will be trying to get high-enough marks to qualify for the Olympic trials this summer.

“For these young people, there will be some people competing at the meet that they have read about in the newspaper or seen on Flotrack,” said Cal track and field director Tony Sandoval. “We want (Cal athletes) to be able to compete at that level themselves.”

At last year’s Payton Jordan Invitational, the Bears recorded many impressive marks, including then-junior Thomas Joyce in the 5,000-meter. Among the throwers, then-freshman Peter Simon beat out Stanford’s Tristan Newman by almost three-fourths of a meter, with an overall distance of 17.57 meters in the shot put. Then-sophomore Brenden Song won the men’s discus throw, with a length of 57.35 meters. Aside from these victories, there were multiple athletes that finished with second-place marks.

For the women, there were two second-place finishes. This included then-junior Victoria Rische who reached a height of 3.90 meters in the women’s pole vault and then-junior Ginika Iwuchukwu, who threw for a distance of 14.29 meters in the women’s shot put.

Traveling with the team as always will be Sandoval, who recently signed a three-year contract extension to be with the Bears until 2019. This season marks his 34th season with the track and field program.

Going into the high-pressure meets of the upcoming weeks, the Bears should be focusing on developing their competitive mindset in the intense environment at Payton Jordan. Given that both the men’s and women’s teams were victorious last weekend at the Brutus Hamilton Invitational, Cal should have no problems continuing to break personal and school records this weekend.

“This is a whole different level of competition. It is good for them to get out of their comfort zone,” Sandoval said. “If they can keep their poise and compete at a high level, I will be very happy.”

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