It’s a showdown between three of the most prestigious public universities in the country. This week, the No. 24 Cal track and field team will be facing off against Virginia and Michigan in the second installation of the tri meet between these three schools.
The Tri-Meet began last year, hosted by Cal, as an opportunity for these three renowned schools to compete against each other in a scoring meet. The history between Cal and Michigan dates back to the 1930’s and 1940’s, when the two schools frequently competed for titles in various track and field meets. This year, the venue shifts to Charlottesville, VA.
“The Tri-Meet is the first big scoring meet for us since Mountain Pacific (Mountain Pacific Sports Federation championships), so the team is fired up,” said director of track and field Tony Sandoval. “We’re expecting a lot of big performances.”
Last year, Cal drew first blood in the series of tri-meets by capturing first place on the men’s side with a total of 161 points. Michigan followed closely behind in second place with 145 points and Virginia was a distant third with 93 points. On the women’s side, however, Cal finished in the middle of the pack, losing out to Michigan by 11 points.
The Bears’ victory on the men’s side was fueled by the title winning performances of Scott Esparza (hammer throw), Ethan Cochran (discus), Hammed Suleman (long jump), Noel Frazier (high jump), Jordan Locklear (800 meters and 1500 meters) and Tom Blocker (100 meters and 200 meters). Of these six athletes, Suleman, Frazier, Locklear, and Blocker will all be returning to action this weekend and look to build upon the success they had last year.
While the Tri-Meet is the focus of this weekend’s events, select members of the team will also be headed to the Stanford Invitational and the San Francisco State Distance Festival to compete. The Stanford Invitational, unlike the exclusive Tri-Meet, is open to a wide range of teams and will feature competition from the likes of No. 3 Texas A&M and No. 21 Cornell, and of course No. 23 Stanford. Cal is trying to make use of these meets to get into the rhythm of competing.
“Qualifying for the outdoor nationals is a long and difficult process, so we need to be as best prepared as we can,” Sandoval said.
In order to qualify for the nationals, athletes must first place among the top 48 individuals in the west region. From there, the top 12 in each event are selected to move on to the nationals. With the end of the outdoor season now within sight, Cal stands to gain a lot from performing well this weekend.
Kapil Kashyap covers track and field. Contact Kapil Kashyap at [email protected]