‘Maximize the opportunities’: Cal targets improvement at Husky Classic

Athlete runs towards camera with a yellow baton in hand as another runs behind him.
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Update: Cal track and field did not attend the Husky Classic due to safety concerns regarding the weather.

Cal track and field started off its season with a bang last month, reeling in seven wins at the University of Washington Invitational.

Even after a promising start to 2019, the challenge for Cal is to build on those achievements. This week, the Bears travel north again and return to Dempsey Indoor for their second meet, the Husky Classic, where they will face much of the same opposition from their previous competition.

Coach Tony Sandoval remained calm and focused, stating simply, “What we’re looking for is to get everybody to improve their marks.”

“Improve” carries a different meaning for each athlete.

McKay Johnson set a school record in the shot put to open his season, and he leads a threatening throws team that includes Joshua Johnson, Silviu Bocancea and Malik McMorris.

Camryn Rogers will represent Cal in the women’s weight throw after taking first at the opening meet. Both Rogers and McKay Johnson have legitimate chances to qualify for the national championships.

Meanwhile, the Bears will have 16 entrants in mid-distance and distance races. After finishing with just one top-10 placement at the UW Invitational, though, Cal’s long-distance runners will try to help their seeding for the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championship later this month in the 800-, 1600-, 3000- and 5000-meter races.

Still, Cal’s weekend at Dempsey Indoor will be defined by improvement and progress.

“We have a number of people who are new, so we’re going to give them some experience — it’s a rust buster for them in a sense. It’s a mixed bag,” Sandoval said.

The women’s sprints team is devoid of seniors, but after a strong showing two weeks ago, the runners will surely be seeking a victory in at least one event. Six Cal athletes will compete in the 60-meter dash, and after taking third and fourth, respectively, at the UW Invitational, Jackie Patterson and Deshae Wise will both be in contention to win that race.

Cal’s jumps team will be represented entirely by underclassmen, but expectations are high after Noelle Schiller and Jalyn Jackson won the women’s and men’s long jump, respectively. Promising freshman Sydney Reid will attempt to better a fourth-place finish in that same event.

But the bag, as Coach Sandoval mentioned, is mixed. The Bears field plenty of experience. All-American Lauren Martinez will return to the pole vault.

Paramveer Chohan brought home two first-place medals from the UW Invitational and will be looking to repeat in the 400-meter dash on this visit to Seattle, headlining a talented team of sprinters and hurdlers that will be competitive in numerous events. Jasher Foster, Misana Viltz and Tyler Brendel all made the finals for the 60-meter hurdles in the last meet, and all three could place at the Husky Classic.

Cal athletes will compete in 27 different events this weekend, but each athlete will have the same goal: “improve.”

“We don’t have a very long indoor season, so we have to maximize the opportunities that we have,” Sandoval said.

The next few days will be rife with opportunities.

Jasper Sundeen covers track and field, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].