Cal track and field set to compete in Stanford Invitational, San Francisco State Distance Carnival this weekend

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For just the second time this season, athletes from the Cal track and field teams will be split between two meets. The teams will be attending both the Stanford Invitational and the San Francisco State Distance Carnival from Friday to Saturday.

Last year on this same weekend, Cal competed in a tri-meet with Michigan and Virginia, which won’t be taking place this year, so this weekend will be a new experience for the team. At Stanford, especially, the Bears will face a huge challenge figuring out if they can stack up next to talented teams from a wide range of collegiate conferences.

“The Stanford meet is a two-day, all-day meet, starting as early as 10 o’clock and finishing as late as 11,” said Cal track and field director Tony Sandoval. “It is a tremendous stress for the team to compete all day for two days like that, which is why I preferred the Virginia meet.”

This will be the 40th anniversary of Stanford hosting the Invitational, which will feature more than 3,000 athletes this year. Because this is technically an open meet, there are some unattached athletes along with athletes from junior colleges and high schools. For the most part, however, the teams come from Division 1 colleges throughout the country.

“(Stanford Invitational) is also a great opportunity for recruitment because there are a lot of high school events. It is the first major high school meet in California,” Sandoval said. “That’s the allure of Stanford. It is a nice mixture of high school, college and post-college athletes.”

The most competitive events are anticipated to be some of the distance races — the 800-meter and longer — as well as the throwing events.

“Probably the events that are not quite at the elite level are the sprints, but nonetheless, they are very good regional marks,” Sandoval said.

The catch with the Stanford meet is that it is so popular; entries are limited by requiring athletes to have certain qualifying marks. Those who don’t have quite good enough marks will be competing in the Distance Carnival, including teams from other states that made their reservations months ago and ended up not qualifying for Stanford, according to Sandoval. This makes the San Francisco meet still very competitive, despite the lack of specific qualifying requirements.

As the title suggests, the San Francisco State Distance Carnival places the greatest amount of emphasis on distance races, including up to 11 heats in the women’s 1,500-meter race and nine in both the men’s and women’s 800-meter. The meet, however, does still feature traditional sprints and field events, but Cal is not sending any athletes Saturday when these events take place.

New this year at the Distance Carnival is the distance medley relay, which could greatly benefit the Bears considering their consistent success in the medley earlier this season.

With all the stress of the long meet weekend, the Bears will need to stay extremely focused in order to top the intense competition they will be facing at either of these events.

Lucy Schaefer covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].