Ashtyn Davis kicked off a long, four-day NCAA Outdoor Track and Field Championships meet that for the Bears would mark not only the end of the Cal track and field teams’ seasons, but also the conclusion of all Cal athletics for the summer. On Wednesday, Davis ran in the preliminary of the 110-meter hurdles in Eugene, Oregon, where the year’s final tournament was being held. Although he very nearly missed qualifying for tournament finals with a ninth-place finish, Davis did set a new personal record in the event, dropping 0.03 seconds off from his previous best, which he ran at the Stanford Invitational earlier this season.
This finish not only showed a significant amount of improvement in Davis, but also allowed for a significant growth in his standings. After he entered the meet with a seed ranking of 20, by the time all the dust had settled, he would be standing in ninth place. This is a testament to the fact that even fractions of a second can make all of the difference in the unforgiving sport of track, especially when it comes to the sprinting events. This ending to the season also speaks to Davis’s admirable work ethic — one that allows him to continue to improve even as the season is nearing its end, and many athletes around him are finding their relative annual plateau. His mark was also 7th best in Cal track and field history in that specific event.
The only other Bear who was able compete on Wednesday was sophomore Peter Simon. In the men’s shot put, Simon finished in 19th place, one spot lower than he was initially seeded. He recorded a long throw of 18.55 meters, which was also a slight drop-off from his initial seeding. If he had been able to repeat just his seed mark of 18.68 meters, Simon would have finished tournament play in 17th place overall. But he couldn’t finish strong on this day. Nonetheless, the sophomore thrower has been the picture of consistency for his Bears team ever since the MPSF indoor season, when he also qualified for the NCAA Indoor Championships. If you include the end of the indoor season, in fact, Simon has registered 10 consecutive events in which his high mark was 60 feet or farther.
The highlight of the meet for the Bears may have then come on Friday, when sophomore Isabella Marten put up perhaps the very best performance of her short career. Marten had already won the triple jump event during the MPSF indoor season, and also during the Pac-12 Conference Outdoor Championships — but on this day in the thin Oregon air, she seemed to fly like she never had before.
By finishing in seventh place in the women’s triple jump with a leap of 43-9.75 (13.35m), the young star secured her second All-America selection as a member of Cal’s team and third overall in her collegiate career. The jump marked the second time that Marten had finished seventh in an NCAA competition, and she not only improved on her personal best mark, but also entered a tie for third place in Cal history in the event. Tracey Stewart recorded the same distance in 2011.
The team also heard news that they had earned 14 Pac-12 All-Academic Honors during the meet Thursday, adding to the many positives that marked the end of the 2015-16 season. Among them were seniors Isaac Dan, Ben Greenwald, Sullivan Parker and Andrew Scholnick, and juniors Trent Brendel, Josh Lewis and Christine Canning. This number is an improvement from just last year, when the Bears registered 12 such honorees. The 14 selections also tie the haul that Cal received during its MPSF indoor season.
While this season may be over, the work that Cal must put in to be even better this time next year starts right now.