Cal track and field sent a contingency of approximately 20 athletes to the Payton Jordan Invitational on Sunday. The meet was held in Palo Alto and featured a mix of athletes from countries all over the world, including Estonia and Ireland.
The Payton Jordan Invitational is widely regarded as one of the premier distance competitions around the globe, with athletes aspiring to qualify for the world championships in track and field. Because of the extremely high level of talent the Bears were up against, they struggled to place well against the competition. But, a number of athletes were able to achieve personal records, which is what director of track and field Tony Sandoval hoped for, going into the competition.
Arguably the most impressive performance Sunday was sophomore Thomas Joyce’s finish in the 5,000 meters. Joyce not only set a personal record for himself, but his mark also earned him the distinction of being eighth on Cal’s all-time performers list. With a time of 13:57.31, Joyce finished first in his heat in the 5,000-meter run in a come-from-behind victory. Freshman John Lawson followed close behind, placing third in the same section with a time of 14:03.78 — a personal record for him.
While the Payton Jordan Invitational is known for its distance-running events, the Bears were able to excel in a number of field events. In particular, men’s discus was a strong event for Cal. Redshirt senior Derek White finished first, followed by freshman Brenden Song in second, and redshirt junior CJ Nwuzi came in third. Song’s mark of 179-2 not only earned him second place, but it was also a personal record for him. Another noteworthy performance was that of Chioma Amaechi in women’s shotput. Although she didn’t set a personal record for herself, she claimed the title in the event by setting a mark of 50-4.00.
Aside from these performances, a number of other athletes were also able to set personal records. Freshman Megan Bordes ran a personal best in the women’s 3,000-meter steeplechase with a time of 10:47.11. Her time is good for sixth place on Cal’s all-time performers list for the event. Redshirt senior Simon Schmidt set a personal record in the same event on the men’s side, with his mark of 9:01.83. In the men’s hammer throw, junior Isaac Dan threw a season-best 198-1, placing him seventh in his section for the event. Freshman Matt Esparza also set a new record in men’s shotput with a throw of 56-8.75. His performance beat out his previous best of 53-0.00, which he set last week at the Brutus Hamilton Open, and earned him second place in his section.
With this being Cal’s final meet before the Pac-12 championships, the plethora of personal records exemplified the improvement the Bears have made over the course of the outdoor season.
Kapil Kashyap covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected]