Early Saturday morning, most of us were in our warm beds, sleeping in, not yet ready to brace the outside world. It was a rainy and cold day, but that did not stop Cal women’s track and field from getting off to a hot start in its outdoor season. In the originally titled California Outdoor Opener, the Bears took first in 17 events, the highlight of which was an impressive outing from junior thrower Destiny Parker.
If you have ever seen the movie “Matilda,” you may remember the scene in the schoolyard where the Trunchbull swings one of her students round-and-round by her pigtails. That depiction, while cruel in the context of schoolchildren, is not far off from the structure of the hammer throw in track. The women’s hammer throw entails competitors swinging around an 8.8 pound metal ball attached to a nearly four-foot-long steel wire and then throwing it as far as possible.
Parker, Cal’s best female thrower, is no stranger to the art of the magnificent hammer throw.
During the outdoor opener, she threw for a personal record of 58.65 meters, just more than a 3-meter improvement from her previous best of 55.61 meters. To put that distance into context, 59 meters is 193 feet — more than half of a football field. So if you placed Parker on the goal line of a football field, her “hammer” would fly past the 50-yard line and land on the 36-yard line — putting her right on the edge of field goal range, at least for some programs.
That distance is sixth in school history, letting Parker achieve on her long-term goals.
“It is definitely something I have been chasing, to get on the the top-10 list,” Parker said. “But I don’t want to stop at six. I want to keep chasing and make it to the top.”
She is on a solid path thus far to reach the Pac-12 Championships podium, as her throw has already qualified her for outdoor regionals.
Last year at the Pac-12 Championships, Parker took seventh in the hammer throw, with a throw of 55.61 meters. If she was competing in the championships last Saturday, her throw would have earned her fourth place — just missing the podium by inches. This year, however, that is not the case. Parker and the rest of the track and field team still have two months to perfect their crafts before the Pac-12 Outdoor Championships in mid-May.
Freshman McKay Johnson was responsible for another top performance, taking first in both the shot put and discuss. Senior Jayla Scholis also claimed two titles, one in the 100-meter event and one in the 4×100-meter relay race.
Cal’s outdoor opener did not consist of a substantial amount of competing teams or ideal weather conditions. Still, the meet served as a solid foundation for the team to build on as it get deeper into its season. It might be a while before the weather heats up, but the track and field team has shown that it is blazing hot, right out of the saddle.
Christie Aguilar covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].