Cal track and field shines against elite teams at MPSF

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Aditi Raghunath/File

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At arguably its most competitive meet so far this season, Cal track and field didn’t look a bit out of place. The MPSF Indoor Championships, the culmination of the team’s indoor regular season, saw the Bears finish with three first places and a mind-blowing 14 top-five finishes.

Cal’s women stunned their competitors, coming in a fourth place in a field of 22 teams. The men, while turning in a lackluster eighth-place finish, still put a host of top performances and personal bests giving them something to be proud of.

“Well I think that anytime you can score at the MPSF, it’s something special,” said head coach Tony Sandoval. “There are no easy events or easy points. The women were great. We asked a lot of people to do some doubling; they did a great job with that. … I thought that was pretty special.”

The women started off on a high note as junior Lauren Martinez turned in Cal’s first victory of the meet, posting 4.20 meters in the pole vault on day one of MPSF, a huge leap from her jump of 4.14 meters earlier this season at the Husky Classic.

One of the best stories of the meet, however, was freshman Camryn Rogers. Rogers firmly planted herself in the Cal record books with a weight throw of 20.31 meters — the best mark ever recorded by a Cal freshman and third-best in Bears history.

While Cal’s men weren’t able to turn in a top-five team finish, they clinched two berths to the NCAAs with senior Ashtyn Davis and sophomore Tuomas Kaukolahti coming in first in their respective events.

Davis continued his tear of dominance this season, starting with a first-place finish in the 60 meter hurdle prelims on day one, followed by another victory in the finals with a time of 7.71 seconds, matching his personal best from last season.

Kaukolahti, a transfer from Finland, recorded another impressive finish, posting a season best triple jump of 16.29 meters to shatter his previous season best of 16.08 meters from the Husky Classic.

The Bears were also recorded two top-five finishes in the shot put. Sophomore McKay Johnson threw a near-season-best of 19.61 meters — good enough for second place — and right behind him was senior Peter Simon with an impressive 19.09 meters for fifth place.

“I think when you bring in the elite of the Pac-12, every event is just loaded,” Sandoval said. “There were some nationally ranked marks across the board, and I thought we competed very well.”

With Cal having finished its final regular season indoor meet of the season, the Bears will be revving up for the two-day NCAA Indoor Championships on March 9 -10. Expect Cal’s Davis and Kaukolahti to make a splash in their respective events, with Martinez possibly joining them in the pole vault.

“I think we’re going to continue what we’ve been doing the past couple of weeks in terms of fine tuning our training,” Sandoval said.  “And obviously the week that we go, we have to travel, so it’s a taper week — a rest week — and hopefully it will make the difference for the people that we take.”

Harshil Desai covers track & field. Contact him at [email protected].

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