Hot on the heels of last week’s victory over Michigan and Virginia in the annual triangular meet where an astounding 23 personal records were broken, the Cal track and field team will look to keep the fast times going across the Bay this Saturday versus No. 17-ranked Stanford for the Big Meet.
This weekend’s competition will mark the 121st time the cross-town rivals will bump heads, in one of the oldest track meets in U.S. history, with Cal’s men’s team leading the all-time series against the Cardinal with a record of 68-50-2 and the Stanford women leading the women’s series 23-12.
“The Big Meet is always a special day for us, between the history of the event and the rivalry we have with Stanford, we always want to compete as best we can,” said sophomore mid-distance runner Josh Lewis. “This meet is a good opportunity to compete against top caliber athletes and to see who is the best.”
Last year, the big story that came out of the Big Meet was that Cal recorded its first sweep over Stanford in 14 years. With 23 events won between the men’s and women’s squads, the Cal men’s team crushed its opponent with a final score of 113-48, and the women comfortably topped Stanford with a score of 97-66.
As expected after such a loss, Cal is expecting Stanford — who will be honoring track alumnus Pitch Johnson during the meet — to be coming at them with full force as the Cardinal looks to avoid being swept back to back for the first time since the 1995-96 seasons.
“It’s always a chess match; it goes on between the two coaches and we’re prepared for anything because it’s in their home environment,” said director of track and field Tony Sandoval. “After what we did to them last year, I’m 100 percent certain that they’re going to come with all barrels loaded.”
With sights set of a second straight sweep, there is the question of whether the Bears can pull off such a feat with a much younger team compared to last year’s. The lack of experience, however, is not taking away from the Bears’ positive attitude going into this weekend.
“We are a lot younger team this year, but as we saw last weekend in our tri-meet against Virginia and Michigan, our guys stepped up across all events and came away with the win,” said redshirt senior thrower Scott Esparza. “So I’d expect the same amount of fight out of our guys against Stanford this weekend.”
Lack of experience or not, the opportunity to compete against a cross-town rival is enough to give any competitive athlete an extra push to do well. The Bears will do their best this weekend to take home the win, as well as bragging rights for the next year.
“Like anything that’s Cal versus Stanford there’s always a little extra motivation,” Sandoval said. “The meet will have its ups and downs, it’ll go back and forth, and in most cases it comes down to the last couple of events. Things have a tendency of balancing themselves out, but it’s such a rivalry that everyone is going to give their best performances.”
Chris Tril covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].