Everything’s bigger in Texas — including Cal track and field’s performances. Seven Bears competed in Austin, Texas, on Friday and Saturday for the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, and they excelled against the competition, highlighted by a number of big performances.
Out of the seven-person squad, four athletes advanced past the preliminaries to represent No. 24 Cal in the finals of their events. The four athletes — freshman Khalfani Muhammad, redshirt seniors Tom Blocker and Dash Oliver, and Milan Ristic — qualified for the 4×100 meter relay, with Ristic also qualifying individually for the 110-meter hurdles. Ristic finished third in the hurdles, while his team placed sixth in the relay.
While Cal sent a small squad to the two-day meet, the competition was intense and was exactly the kind of practice that Cal needs if it hopes to succeed at more important meets. The seven Bears were up against the likes of No. 2 Florida, No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 17 Baylor.
This Texas meet showcased one of the quirks of outdoor track and field: the volatile weather conditions. Strong winds were prevalent throughout the meet, providing a unique advantage to competitors. Because of the assistance of the wind, Ristic was able to post an impressive time of 13.59 seconds in the 110-meter hurdles.
In order to account for the influence of these winds on runners, if tail winds exceed two meters per second, any time registered by a runner cannot be counted as a record. On Saturday, the wind speed was 2.1 meters per second, so despite Ristic’s performance, his personal record for the event still stands at 13.71 seconds — the time he recorded in the qualifiers Friday — because of the impact of wind. Ristic was ultimately beat out by Wayne Davis II from Texas A&M (13.442) and Eddie Lovett from Florida (13.448).
The 4×100 meter relay team ended up with a time of 40.31 seconds, good for sixth place. The team finished behind Florida, Texas A&M, Baylor, Auburn and Louisiana Tech. Its performance is especially noteworthy when considering its ninth-place finish in the qualifiers leading up to it.
“We are really pleased with how sharp we were on the second day,” director of track and field Tony Sandoval said to Cal Athletics. “Sixth place in the relay out of lane one was very impressive, considering we qualified ninth in the prelims.”
Other strong performances came from Malaina Payton and Jonte Grant on day one of the meet. Payton placed seventh in the long jump with a mark of 20-0.25, while Grant finished third in the triple jump. They were able to perform well despite the numerous delays caused by inclement weather conditions.
Kapil Kashyap covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected]