When most people think of college sports during the month of March, they jump to “March Madness.” The top 64 teams make it to that version of March Madness, and after two rounds of play, the teams get narrowed down to the “Sweet 16.” But the number 16 can be oh-so-sweet in the world of track and field as well.
On March 10 and 11, the fastest Division I athletes will meet in College Station, Texas, to compete for the NCAA Indoor Track and Field Championships. In each event, save for the relays, only the top 16 marks qualify. For Cal, however, the magic number is three. Three track and field members — junior Ashtyn Davis, junior Garrett Corcoran and senior Thomas Joyce — will be representing Cal at the NCAA Indoor Championships.
Davis, Cal’s superstar hurdler, will have a shot at the podium in the 60-meter hurdles. He took first in this event at all three meets during the indoor season and qualified for these championships with a time of 7.75 seconds. Davis will go in as a 15th seed, facing a mere, yet fateful, 0.17 second gap between his mark and the top time of 7.58. This championship appearance is a testimony to Davis’ successes, which, coming out of high school, few would have predicted.
“Up until this point, even going forward, I still always feel like I have something to prove,” Davis said. “Being that I didn’t have any offers out of high school for track or for football … it’s still not real for me. When I get there I am just going to try and soak it all in and obviously run as fast as I can. Hopefully I (come out with a) personal record.”
Joyce, one of Cal’s most accomplished distance veterans, will be competing in the mile, going in as a 13th seed. Joyce has competed in both indoor and outdoor track and field, along with cross country, and this will be the last indoor meet of his career.
“When I went to my first championships my sophomore year I felt like I was just along for the ride and whatever happened, happened,” Joyce said. “But now I am not just appreciative to be there, I would like to do well.”
Fellow distance runner Corcoran, will be competing in the 3,000 meters, going in as an 11th seed. Corcoran has competed in national championships in cross country, but this is his first time competing in the track finals. While his earlier races of the seasons did not prove to be exceptional, Corcoran showed that it is not how you start, but how you finish.
“I had been having not very good races up until (the MPSF Championships) and it felt good to finally pop off a good personal record,” Corcoran said. “I wouldn’t be here if I hadn’t ran that fast at MPSF.”
These three athletes have shown their prominence by qualifying for the “Sweet 16,” but now they are among the most elite runners in the nation. We will see if they will boost themselves up onto the podium, or get lost among their fellow standout competitors.
Christie Aguilar covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].