Men’s track and field:
Some have the ability to perform under pressure; some do not.
The Cal men’s 4×100-meter relay team proved that it could rise to the occasion when it tied its season-best time in order to clinch the final qualification spot in the NCAA championships, May 31.
“I told them that first place or 12th place was the same, as the goal is to qualify for the NCAA finals,” said director Tony Sandoval to Cal Athletics after the meet. “Overall we either had a qualifying mark, or they improved on their premeet rankings.”
With its time of 39.91 seconds, the relay team not only qualified for the NCAA championships but also produced the best time that Cal has earned since 1987, good for seventh on Cal’s All-Time Performers List.
The team, composed of redshirt junior Dan Davis, freshman Khalfani Muhammadand redshirt seniors Tom Blocker and Dash Oliver, earned a No. 24 national ranking with its time. The performance demonstrated that when it mattered most, the Bears were able to shift into a higher gear. The team’s mark of 39.91 seconds was .66 seconds faster than the team’s season average.
Two weeks later at the NCAA championships in Eugene, Oregon, the Bears ran the relay in 40.17, which placed them 22nd overall in the tournament and eighth in their heat.
The season as a whole was a success for the men’s 4×100-meter relay team as it was able to qualify for the NCAA championships and finished the season ranked in the top 25. While the team will lose big contributors in seniors Blocker and Oliver to graduation, Davis and the promising Muhammad — who will also be playing football in the fall — will return next season hungry to improve.
Women’s track and field:
As she lifted her 8.8-pound weight by its chain at the Husky Indoor Classic in Seattle, junior Chioma Amaechi was getting ready to accomplish something that no other Bear had before.
Known as one of the most competitive meets of the track and field season, the classic brings together some of the premier athletes in the country. Amaechi thrived under the pressure of competition, as she set a new school record with 21.75 meters in the weight throw and set her career-best mark in the shot put with a 52-11.50. Her performance in the weight throw was good enough to rank her fifth nationally. Amaechi also set a career best in the shotput event with a 52-11.50, more than 2.5 feet more than the University of Oregon’s Brittany Mann.
Amaechi was also one of three members of the Bears’ track and field team who competed at the NCAA Indoor Championships in Albuquerque, New Mexico, along with Milan Ristic and Hammed Suleman. But Amaechi struggled with foul problems at the meet, posting a 59-7.00 in the women’s weight throw, placing her at 16th.
“NCAA qualifying flights are always tenuous, especially in the field events,” Sandoval said after the meet to Cal Athletics. “Both [Suleman] and Chioma had monster marks in their first-round attempts but unfortunately fouled.”
Still, in a women’s track and field season bookended by distance runner Kelsey Santisteban’s injuries, Amaechi’s strong performance early in the year speaks to the possibility of future stars to watch as the young roster continues to develop into an all-around threat.
Contact Jeremy Laufer at [email protected].