Four Cal athletes qualify for NCAA Championships

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The tornado warnings and non-stop rain in Lawrence, Kansas, caused the events of the normally three-day NCAA West Regionals to be condensed into two. This meant that several heats of the meet were canceled or squished together, making the competition for Cal track and field athletes more high pressure.

On the first day of competition, 12 of Cal’s 28 athletes competed for a qualifying top-12 finish to move onto NCAA Championships in less than two weeks in Eugene, Oregon.

Among the Cal women on Friday, freshman Kendall Mader placed 10th in the discus throw and junior Ilse Kaaja placed 15th in the hammer throw. Senior Isaac Dan was Friday’s top finisher for the Cal men. Dan placed 19th in the hammer throw with a distance of 60.99 meters.

All of those who recorded the top marks on Friday were throwers, and that theme continued on to Saturday when sophomore Peter Simon was the first Bear to obtain qualification marks in the shot put for NCAA Championships. Simon placed 10th with a high distance of 18.68 meters.

There were three other sophomores who qualified for NCAAs on Saturday — triple jumpers Isabella Marten and Ashley Anderson, and hurdler Ashtyn Davis.

Marten has had a consistent season, qualifying for NCAA Indoor Championships and winning her event at almost every meet she attends. Anderson, on the other hand, has been in the shadow of the new transfer’s success for the entire season. But on Saturday, Anderson rose to the occasion and set a new personal record when she placed ninth with her longest jump being a 12.91 meter triple jump.

“She jumped well. We knew she was going to be close and she did step up,” said Cal track and field director Tony Sandoval. “We were hoping that she could put it together and she did.”

Marten finished in seventh place, jumping 13.01 meters. These, and any of the other jumps results, were impressive considering that the jumps and pole vault competition were forced indoors because of the weather.

Davis, who ran in the 110-meter hurdles, finished in ninth place, narrowly missing a new personal record with his time of 13.82 seconds.

Although there were four athletes that qualified, there were even more whose marks were just shy of qualifying. Sophomore Bethan Knights ran in the 5,000-meter and placed 13th. Her efforts landed her just 0.47 seconds short of a qualification mark. Junior Khalfani Muhammad and redshirt senior Jonte Grant both placed 15th in the 200-meter dash and triple jump, respectively.

The real standout was senior Sydney Gray who ran in both the 5,000-meter and 1,500-meter. In the two events, she managed to place within the top 20, just missing qualification for NCAAs with her 16th place performance in the 1,500-meter.

Given the circumstances, the Bears managed to pull together and produce marks that reflected the hard work they have put in throughout the season.  Although this meet marked the end of the season for most Cal athletes, the four that move on will continue to train hard for the next two weeks so they can represent the Bears well at the NCAA Championships.

“We had a number of people that did really well,” Sandoval said. “The majority of them are underclassmen so that is something we are excited about, and we are certainly going to miss a number of our seniors.”

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