Cal track and field’s freshmen impress at Hornet Invitational

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Jinsu Elhance/File

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During some of the coldest weather this season, the Cal track and field team was nothing short of blazing hot this weekend at the Hornet Invitational.

Sacramento State’s annual Hornet Invitational featured close to 2,200 entrants, giving the Bears a taste of their Northern Californian competition. Both the men and the women were able to win the meet, surpassing their impressive performance from last year.

With Cal missing some of its top athletes, the team was relying on some of its younger athletes to score some big points. Freshman Joshua Johnson did just that. Johnson recorded a huge PR with a throw of 17.03 meters in the shot put. His performance was more than enough for first place, giving Cal’s men 10 of their 164 points. Behind Johnson, the Bears swept the event, taking first, second and third place.

Freshman Noelle Schiller notched another win for Cal’s freshman in the long jump. Schiller’s jump of 6.06 meters just barely edged out second place, with San Jose State sophomore Destiny Longmire finishing just half an inch behind.

Schiller’s jump was a big PR, improving from her mark of 5.97 meters set at the UW Invitational, Cal’s first indoor meet of the season.

While the Bears were competing against some competitive athletes, ultimately their toughest opponent was the weather.

“Well I think it was a challenge for all of us, not only ourselves but also the other competitors, because it was really cold today,” said Cal head coach Tony Sandoval. “We’re very very fortunate it didn’t rain on us. But it was pretty cloudy, pretty windy. But you know, it’s just part of the deal. Just because we have bad weather doesn’t mean we can’t have great competition.”

The weather was a menace, hovering in the high 40s and low 50s for most of the day. Even still, Cal’s budding stars still found a way to get things done.

Redshirt junior Isabella Marten gave Cal some more firepower, coming away with first in the women’s triple jump. Marten won with a jump of 12.67 meters, beating second place by almost a full half meter. Marten, coming off a one-year injury-induced hiatus, is slowly coming back, racking up high finishes in every meet she’s competed in so far.

To give Cal’s field athletes yet another win, junior Silviu Bocancea impressed in the hammer throw with a throw of 61.53 meters. Bocancea was sitting in third place heading into the final round, until he came in with a monster throw to push him over the edge.

The Bears will hope to rekindle this excellence later this season when they return to Sacramento State for the NCAA West regional championships on their path to nationals. For now, the Bears can rest easy as they prepare for next week’s Pac-12/Big 10 Challenge.

“We used this as a kind of a warmup meet for some people for next week’s meet in Arizona,” Sandoval said.

Cal hasn’t competed at an outdoor meet at full strength yet, but at every meet, the team has shown some quality performances by its younger athletes. With some exciting new freshman and steady veterans, Cal track and field will have a very balanced team moving forward into the year.

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