Cal men’s and women’s track and field teams both finish in top-15

Alex Turney/Staff

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The Cal track and field team wrapped up its weekend at the Mount Pacific Sports Federation Championships in Seattle, Washington, where the men’s team finished eighth and the women’s team finished 11th, with several personal records set along the way.

The men finished with a total of 53 points, good for that eighth-place finish, just behind Washington and ahead of Arizona. The team got off to a quick start, with the scoring led by junior Thomas Joyce’s fifth-place finish in the mile (4:01.56), freshman Ashtyn Davis’ seventh-place finish in the 60-meter hurdles (8.14) and sophomore Khalfani Muhammad’s sixth-place finish in the 60-meter dash (6.87). Junior jumper Jonte Grant, who suffered a sprained ankle a month earlier, set a new personal record in the triple jump (15.60 m) to score eight points with his second-place finish.

Among other players with personal bests for the men’s squad were sophomore Eugene Hamilton III (1:49.82) and freshman Ellis Newton (1:51.79) in the 800-meter event, junior Leland Later in the mile (4:05.28) and 3,000 meters (8:09.81), sophomore Yohaness Estifanos (8:24.02) and Joyce (8:09.61) in the 3,000 meters and freshman Peter Simon (16.47m) in the shot put.

On the woman’s side, the scoring was led by freshman Bethan Knights and sophomore Kiare Tanner, who took home a combined 11 points of the team’s 30-point total. Knights finished a mere two-hundredths of a second shy (9:18.44) of her 3,000-meter school freshman record, finishing in fourth place with a total of five points, while sophomore Tanner excelled at the triple jump (12.34m) to place third in her event with six points.

Amid the several players with personal records broken on the women’s team were freshman Natalie Herberg in the 800 meters (2:14.37), junior Mariel Mendoza in the mile (4:57.33) and 3,000 meters (9:42.93), junior Christine Canning in the high jump (1.66m) and freshmen Ginika Iwuchukwu (14.59m) and Destiny Parker (13.73m) in the shot put.

A couple of school records were broken this weekend as well, as the men’s distance medley team — composed of Joyce, Hamilton III, Newton and sophomore Josh Lewis — finished with a time of 9:33.81 to place fourth in Cal’s records books for the event. Redshirt junior Chris Walden also made it into Cal’s top-10 all-time list for the 5,000-meter event with a time of 13:59.34.

“This weekend was a massive step in the right direction,” Walden said. “It is really exciting moving towards outdoors because we have not even really gotten into our intense training to perform at the highest level.”

While the end result was not a repeat of last year’s performance, when Cal won the entire event, that is not to take away from the overall performance and effort of the team.

“In a championship series, there are always ups and downs, there’s always disappointments, and there’s always surprises, and it kind of evens itself out,” said Tony Sandoval, the director of track and field. “But I kind of felt overall we did well with the kids that we had.”

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