2017 is already off to a great start for the Cal track and field team, which put up several impressive marks in its first meet of the year this weekend. At what was initially expected to be a rust-buster, the Washington Indoor Invitational ended up producing 23 top-10 finishes for the Bears, including a couple of first-place finishes.
The impressive start to the season marks the team’s growth of both skill and maturity, with several sophomores and juniors recording the biggest results for the Bears.
Sophomore Robert Brandt and junior Destiny Parker highlighted this growth during the very first day of the meet. Right off the bat, Parker set a new personal record in the weight throw with a whopping first-place distance of 19.54 meters. The distance shattered her previous best of 17.68 meters at last year’s MPSF Indoor Championships, and her distance has steadily gotten farther as the years progress. Should the trend continue, it wouldn’t come as a surprise to see her place higher than ninth in the MPSF Indoor Championships this season.
In Brandt’s first collegiate track meet — he was exclusively a cross country runner his first two seasons — he finished in first place in the men’s 5,000-meter. Not only did he finish in first, but he finished in first by a lot. Brandt edged Portland’s Danny Martinez by more than nine seconds, and should only improve now that he no longer has to deal with the terrain of cross country slowing him down.
The season’s first meet often comes with lowly expectations, especially for freshmen who have never had the experience of competing at a Division I level. While most new additions to the team used the Washington Indoor Invitational to get their first-meet jitters out of the way, freshman Paramveer Chohan used the opportunity to win the 400-meter title with a time of 47.34.
Freshman Ariane Arndt seized her first opportunity with the team and helped the women’s distance medley place third in the event. With Arndt, sophomores Jackie Chandler and Rebecca Croft and junior Nuria Tio Peig, Cal finished with a time of 11:40.36 behind Stanford and Canadian-based Simon Fraser University.
Junior Bethan Knights was her usual self and placed in the top three of her event. She finished the women’s 5,000-meter in second place with a time of 16:15.54. While her placing was impressive, Knights’ final times in the 5,000 should improve as she has her midseason times have historically been better.
With the first meet out of the way, it will only be a matter of time before the Bears get back into their midseason form.
Chris Tril is the sports editor. Contact him at [email protected].