Cal track and field heads to MPSF Indoor Championships

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After last week’s meet at the Husky Indoor Classic in Washington, the Cal track and field team will be lacing up its spikes once again in Seattle this weekend to participate in the 23rd annual Mount Pacific Sports Federation Team Championship.

The Bears will be squaring up against 18 other colleges from the Pac-12, Big West and West Coast Conferences beginning Friday at the University of Washington’s Dempsey Indoor Facility. Tony Sandoval, Cal’s director of track and field, will be taking 50 athletes with him to try to repeat last season’s men’s team victory in the MPSF Indoor Championship title.

During last year’s competition, the Bears narrowly seized the men’s title from the hands of Arizona State by a score of 96-93, a feat that had not been accomplished by Cal in 21 years after a third-place finish the year prior.

The team that will be heading to Seattle this time around, however, will have a very different feel to it. With many of the big scorers from last year’s team graduating and with the competition seemingly getting better every year, it is up to the younger athletes to step up and protect their title. But while the experience is no longer there, many on the team believe that this year’s squad has just as much talent.

“I feel really good about the Golden Bear track squad,” said redshirt junior long-distance runner Chris Walden. “We established last year that we are a championship caliber team, and this past year we have really been working hard to instill that championship mindset into our culture.”

Just as the talent is there, the willingness to win is definitely resonating throughout all the athletes who will be traveling to Seattle. The team looks to keep running its best in order to keep up with the stiff competition that lies ahead of them.

“The MPSF is the premier distance running conference in the NCAA, so every event and heat is packed with talent,” said distance runner Leland Later. “If I make sure not to get tripped up, I’m really confident that I can run a fast mark to springboard into the outdoor season.”

In addition to the men’s team looking to seal the deal once again with a victory at the University of Washington, the women’s team is also looking to make strides from last year’s meet.The women’s team finished the weekend with 38 points, good for a seventh-place rank alongside BYU. While the effort was good enough for a slight improvement from the year prior. when they placed eighth, hopes are high for this year’s team to surpass last year’s ranking, with the team counting on freshman Bethan Knights and senior Kelsey Santisteban to lead the team to some key points.

According to Walden, last year’s MPSF meet was a great precursor to winning several other scoring meets, such as the Triangular Meet against Michigan and Virginia, as well as the dominating win over Stanford at the Big Meet.

With the outdoor track season a week away, walking away from this meet with another great performance will hopefully give the team a push in the right direction for the 2015 season.

Chris Tril covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].