The Cal track and field team is sending eight runners to get in some extra work this weekend at the Payton Jordan Invitational in Palo Alto, California, with only one more meet left in the 2015 outdoor season. The meet will be honoring late Stanford track and field coach Payton Jordan, who died in 2009.
Early in his track career, Jordan led the University of Southern California — where he was a member of its world-record-setting 4×110-yard relay team — to two national championships. He used his experience on the track to coach Stanford’s track and field team from 1957 to 1979 and to produce seven Olympians, six world record holders and six national champions during his 23-season tenure. Jordan’s love for the sport extended into his later years, as he continued racing competitively into his 70s and 80s in masters track meets, proving that age is merely a number.
Much like the Mt. Sac Relays, which took place earlier this month and where the Bears did well, the Payton Jordan Invitational will be a nonscoring event, oriented toward the most elite runners from across the globe. Unlike the relays, however, this weekend will be mostly distance-event-oriented, with only four events shorter than 800 meters. Since its creation in 2000, the Payton Jordan Invitational has become one of the biggest distance track meets in the country, drawing some of the top names in the running community.
Runners from around the world — including New Zealand, Mexico and Norway — will be making their way stateside to compete and represent their countries, as well as American Olympic runners Evan Jager, Lopez Lomong, Nick Symmonds and Andrew Wheating. Collegiately, Cal will be up against some of the top schools in the country, such as Oregon, Texas Tech and Baylor.
“This is a very elite exclusive meet catered to the top national and international athletes,” said Tony Sandoval, director of track and field. “There’ll be some college people, but it’s only the very elite people that are running there.”
Among the elite will be eight of Cal’s best distance runners, who will be competing in the 800- and 1,500-meter Saturday. Running the 800-meter will be freshman Ellis Newton and sophomore Eugene Hamilton III, with freshman Garrett Corcoran, sophomore John Lawson, juniors Leland Later and Thomas Joyce and redshirt senior Collin Jarvis running the 1,500-meter. Sophomore Josh Lewis will have the feat of competing in both events for the team.
The trio of Later, Lewis and Joyce hope to continue their success on the track after their incredible performances last week in the mile at the Brutus Hamilton Open, where Joyce placed first with a time of 3:58.69, and Later and Lewis finished less than three seconds behind with times of 4:01.33 and 4:01.81, respectively. With 100 fewer meters to run Saturday — they’re running the 1,500-meter instead of the 1,600-meter — the finishing times of the three will hopefully turn a few heads.
With the Pac 12 Championships only two more weeks away, these eight Bears hope to show the ferocity that the team is displaying to all of its opponents in its quest to dominate at Nationals.
Chris Tril covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].