The upcoming Mt. Sac Relays present the most unique challenge to date for the Cal track and field team: competing against noncollegiate track athletes.
Serving as an annual track hotspot, the Mt. Sac Relays held in Walnut, Calif., feature a mix of collegiate athletes and postcollege track athletes. Even foreign athletes travel all the way from their native countries to attend this highly respected meet. While the Bears have faced off against several top-25 teams through the current season, the three-day Mt. Sac Relays — panning from Friday to Sunday — will be unlike any opponent they have been matched up against so far.
“Mt. Sac is a track and field Disneyland,” said director of track and field Tony Sandoval. “People come from all over the United States — and even outside the country.”
The Mt. Sac Relays are a prestigious track meet the Bears have been competing in for the past 50 years. But Cal’s participation has been on and off — determined at the discretion of the coaching staff, based on the schedule of the particular season. The Bears decided to participate in the meet this year to focus on competing in three groups of events: sprints, hurdles and jumps. Instead of sending the entire squad, Sandoval elected to send a small contingency consisting primarily of athletes who participate in these three categories of events.
“I think there are some meets that are a little bit more competitive in the distances and field events, and other meets are probably a little more competitive in the sprints, hurdles and jumps,” Sandoval said. “And I think that this is very appropriate for the people we are taking. Our relays and jumps and sprints and a couple of our throwers, they need to go in there and mix it up with the big people.”
As the Mt. Sac Relays are not a scoring meet (team-based scoring), the target that Cal track and field will be striving toward is setting personal records. Coming off their win at the Big Meet — a meet identified historically for being replete with personal records — the Bears will be aiming to outdo what they accomplished last week.
The Mt. Sac Relays are also a meet known to showcase some of the best high school talent in the nation. Although the primary objective of the meet is to perform well and set competitive marks, the track and field staff will be scouting some of the high school talent to potentially recruit athletes.
“We’re going to get some double duty there, while we’re competing, to get a chance to see athletes that we probably did not see compete at the Arcadia Meet this past weekend,” Sandoval said.
If all goes well this weekend, the implications of this meet could benefit Cal track and field not only this season but also for years to come.
Kapil Kashyap covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected]