On Friday and Saturday, a nine-member field squad from the Cal track and field team will compete at the University of Washington Invitational, looking for results that will qualify it for the NCAA Championships in mid-March.
Many of the country’s top-ranked teams will be competing elsewhere, but the meet is still considered to be a big one. Cal will face runners from a multitude of other schools, including Pac-12 schools such as Arizona, UCLA and Oregon State.
“The message for this weekend is the same as it is at any meet,” said Cal head coach Tony Sandoval. “We’re just going to tell the team to go out there and represent the university the best they can.”
One of the Bears traveling to Seattle is junior Jaci Powell, who will be competing in the women’s pentathlon. Sandoval singled out Powell because she has a very good chance of qualifying for the NCAAs. In the outdoor track season last year, Powell finished fourth in a similar event, the heptathlon, at the Pac-12 Multi-event Championships.
This weekend, Powell will compete against an anticipated field of 20 other pentathletes, all of whom will complete their events by the end of the day Friday. The pentathlon incorporates the 60-meter hurdles, the high jump, the shot put, the long jump and the 800 meters. Athletes are then given a set number of points based on times, distance and height in each of the events. At the end, the athlete with the highest point total wins the overall event, but all those who exceed the qualifying standard will qualify for the NCAAs.
The team will also comprise Grace Beaudoin and Tara Lookabaugh in the women’s high jump; sophomore Noel Frazier and senior Nick Ridge in the men’s high jump; female pole vaulters Emma McCarthy, a freshman, and sophomore Victoria Rische; junior Chioma Amaechi, competing in the women’s weight throw and the women’s shot put; and redshirt sophomore Isaac Dan in the men’s weight throw.
While Sandoval won’t be traveling to Seattle for the meet, he is sending a couple of assistant coaches in his place, including one who previously coached at the University of Washington and knows a lot about the indoor track where the team will be competing. This weekend is considered to be the last big recruiting weekend for track and field, so Sandoval is staying in Berkeley to help with that.
According to Sandoval, having only a portion of the team can sometimes be more complicated than traveling with the entire team because there aren’t as many people on staff around to help out. Sandoval will be updated on results as they come in so he can have a good handle on what is happening at the meet.
Because a small team is traveling, the focus of the meet will be less about the team result and more about the individual results. The team is very close to having some Bears qualify for the NCAAs, so this weekend could be a prime opportunity for the team to make that happen.