Though the atmosphere of the meets last weekend and this weekend are very different, one constant remains. The fierce competition between the Cal and Stanford’s track and field teams will continue as the Bears host the Big Meet at Edwards Stadium on Saturday.
A long-standing tradition at Cal, the Big Meet will be celebrating its 122nd anniversary this year. This makes it one of the oldest track meets in the country. Many athletes who have come out of this meet went on to compete in the Olympics or National Championships.
Although the meet itself does not start until Saturday, the festivities start the night before.
“We have a Big Meet dinner, perform skits and give out awards to teammates,” said junior Eugene Hamilton III. “It’s all planned amongst the seniors and team captains.”
Before the national anthem, the Bears will be honoring former assistant coach Randy Ziraldo, who died in February. He coached at Cal for almost 15 years, providing guidance to several All-American athletes throughout the 1990s.
Starting at 10 a.m., the women’s hammer throw will kick off the competition Saturday in one of the most anticipated meets of the season. Because it hosts significantly fewer than the 3,000 athletes present at the Stanford Invitational last weekend, the Big Meet goes by fairly quickly, with no preliminaries and no more than nine athletes competing in each event.
Last year, the Cal men’s team beat Stanford resoundingly, 101-62, however, the Cal women’s team struggled, falling to the Cardinal, 111-49.
Among the most impressive of the Bears’ performances last year was Hamilton, who won the 800-meter with a time of 1:48.98, as well as then-junior Thomas Joyce, who won both the 1,500-meter race and the 3,000-meter race. Additionally, Ethan Cochran won significantly in the men’s shot put and discus throw.
On the women’s side, the most successful showing came in the 4×100-meter relay composed of Erica Wilson, Jasiri Blake, Khala Taylor and then-sophomore Jayla Scholis. They beat Stanford’s relay team by less than a second, with a time of 46.82. Then-junior Victoria Rische also won her event, the women’s pole vault, with a height of 4.00 meters.
The men’s team, which has consistently won throughout the history of the Big Meet, will be seeking to hold onto the crown, while the women have a bit more to prove. This weekend, the women will be looking to close the gap using the power of their underclassmen, who have been shining through particularly in the last few outdoor meets.
“We have been watching Stanford’s best athletes throughout the season, and deciding where we want to put our athletes in order to score the most points,” said Cal track and field director Tony Sandoval. “In the end though we can never know what is going to happen. The men’s competition is going to be very close. It could really go either way.”