Twelve athletes from the Cal track and field team will head south to Walnut, California, this weekend, where they will be participating in the 57th annual Mt. SAC Relays. This will be the last time the Bears compete inside the famous Hilmer Lodge Stadium under its current configuration before it undergoes a $62 million renovation.
In its 57 years, the Mt. SAC Relays has become an annual track and field hotspot. Hundreds of national records have been set at the relays, including 20 world records. Home of the site of “the greatest day in track and field,” where seven world records were either broken or tied Aug. 12, 1960, the meet’s rich history and competitive atmosphere has led the meet to be known as “where the world’s best athletes compete.”
“There’s a great history and a great legacy,” said Tony Sandoval, Cal’s director of track and field. “A lot of people want to put that in their bucket lists and say they got to compete at the Mt. SAC Relays.”
The meet will host several athletes from all over the world — including athletes from Japan, Mexico, Brazil and Finland — and allow them to showcase their skills in one of the biggest track meets in the world. In the competition state, Cal will be competing among athletes at every level, from high school to professional athletes.
Cal will be using this opportunity to compete in such a high profile environment to prove that even in the wake of losing a number of key athletes last season, this year’s team is just as strong and has carried the momentum over from a historic season smoothly.
“Competing against professional athletes, international teams and on a world stage like Mt. SAC Relays is just another opportunity to send out a statement about the outstanding talent we have individually and potential we have as a team,” said redshirt junior jumper Jonte Grant.
Among the huge names that will be heading to Mt. SAC this weekend is Cal’s own freshman phenom Bethan Knights, who currently owns Cal records in both the 1,500- and 3,000-meters. She will be hoping to make some noise in the 5,000-meter against competition she knows will be ready.
“Going into Mt. SAC after a two-second PR in the mile makes me excited to know that I’m really fit right now,” Knights said. “It also leaves me confident that I can have a big kick and fast-pace last mile that some other 5k distance runners might now have.”
Other runners who will be competing at the meet will be Jayla Scholis in the 100-meter, Kiare Tanner in the triple jump, Khalfani Muhammad in the 100- and 200-meter, Ashtyn Davis in the 110-meter hurdles, Jonte Grant in the 400-meter hurdles, Noel Frazier in the high jump, Walter Jones in the long jump, Jonte Grant in the triple jump, Ethan Cochran in the discus, Scott Esparza in the hammer throw, and Karsten Wethington who will join Jones, Davis and Muhammad in the 4×100-meter relay.
The chance to compete against some of the better competition in the country such as Oregon, Arkansas and UCLA at this point of the season is a sign of things to come later on. With nationals just around the corner, the Mt. Sac Relays will serve as an opportunity for some of the top athletes on the Cal track team to see some of the competition that they might eventually face.
“It’s our goal as a team, and my goal as a captain, to continue to build and create that championship tradition, and this team understands that this meet is just another opportunity to do that,” Grant said.
Chris Tril covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].