The Cal track and field team found itself in the middle of the pack at the Cherry and Silver Invitational, hosted by the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, N.M., over the weekend.
The Bears scored two victories, the first coming in the men’s long jump, in which redshirt senior Hammed Suleman likely qualified for the NCAA Championships. He jumped 7.70-meters, beating the second-place finisher by nine-tenths of a meter.
Cal’s other victory came from sophomore Randy Bermea, who won the men’s 400-meter hurdles for the second year in the row, this year with a time of 52.41. Bermea does not typically compete in indoor events, but he bested the second-place-finisher by a little less than three seconds.
Cal athletes placed in the top three in numerous other events against a field that contained schools such as Stanford University, the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, the University of Southern California, Florida State University and the University of Arizona. Also competing at the meet were “unattached” runners who didn’t run for a college program, and runners competing for Nike.
On Friday, Bears placed in the top three in the women’s weight throw, where junior Chioma Amaechi placed third; in the women’s long jump, where redshirt senior Malaina Payton finished third; and in the men’s weight throw, where redshirt junior Chijoke Nwuzi placed second and redshirt senior Derek White finished third.
The following day, Cal took second in the men’s 60-meter hurdles finals, with junior transfer Milan Ristic. During the preliminaries, Ristic beat the field and tied his personal record with a time of 7.75. That time was a tenth of a second shy of both the meet record and the national record in Serbia, his home country. In the finals, Ristic, a transfer from UNC-Asheville, was beaten by a USC runner.
Other top finishes included senior Charnell Price, who placed fourth in the women’s 60-meter dash. Price’s time of 7.45 was the third best 60-meter time in school history. Other Bears put up personal records, showing promise for the rest of the indoor season. Sophomore Ethan Cochran placed fifth in the shotput with a PR of 56-0.25, and redshirt sophomore Jonte Grant was sixth in the triple jump with an indoor PR of 50-7.25.
“I was especially pleased with the overall poise and competitiveness by everyone,” said Cal track and field head coach Tony Sandoval to Cal Athletics. “There were some truly outstanding marks throughout the two-day meet.”
Still, Sandoval didn’t appear to bring his entire team — long-distance runner and NCAA qualifier Kelsey Santisteban, who is rumored to be dealing with an injury, was noticeably absent.
The indoor season differs from outdoor track because the track is smaller indoors. The track is banked and is just 200 meters long instead of being flat and 400 meters long, like in the outdoor season. The indoor season also does not have as many events as the outdoor season does — javelin, hammer, discus and steeplechase are omitted — because of safety concerns. Competing indoors also means there are no weather concerns and a more intimate environment.