Cal track and field competing in MPSF Indoor Championships

Karen Chow/File

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As you go about your day, you probably regard lengths of time the same way track runners do — the quicker the better. How quickly can you walk from your house to your lecture hall, or how quickly can you finish your homework? It is almost a guarantee, however, that you have never used the time it takes to blink as a measure of time.

Athletes from 39 schools nationwide competed in MPSF qualifiers from December 2016 to mid-February 2017 in hopes of earning a spot in the finals. The weekend is finally here, and action will begin Feb. 24 in Seattle, Washington. But try not to blink — you might miss it.

Chances are you have blinked at least once while reading this article. According to Harvard’s BioNumbers’ database, an average blink is 0.1 to 0.4 seconds. So if it takes you 0.1 seconds to blink, in that same amount of time junior Marquis Morris of USC, freshman Braxton Canady of Oregon and junior Ashtyn Davis of Cal would have run by you in what looked like a tie. Their personal best times in the 60-meter hurdles were separated by 100ths of a second: 7.73, 7.74, 7.75.

Blink again. In that span of time, less than 3/4ths of a second, five runners would have finished the 400-meter event with times of 46.41, 46.56, 46.57, 46.86 and 46.95. Those five runners are USC junior Ricky Morgan Jr., Oregon senior Marcus Chambers, Arizona senior Miles Parish, Arizona State senior Herb Polk and Cal freshman Paramveer Chohan.

Davis and Chohan are different ages and compete in different events, yet the two Cal stars have a few things in common: Both are within one blink of first place, and both were unwisely overlooked as they entered college.

Davis, one of Cal’s most promising track and field athletes, is ranked third overall in the MPSF and 11th in NCAA Division I in the 60-meter hurdles. But coming out of high school, most did not expect much out of the football player who also ran track.

“(Davis) was overlooked in the recruiting process,” said Cal director of track and field Tony Sandoval.

Similarly, Chohan, the now-standout freshman, was not the most sought-after recruit.

“He wasn’t the superstar in high school where everybody was after him,” Sandoval said.

With only two collegiate meets under his belt, Paramveer is already one of Cal’s best competitors. He is ranked fifth in the MPSF and 35th in NCAA Division I in the 400-meter event.

“I have never seen anybody burst out of the scene as quickly as he has. (His early performances) have been really exciting for all of us,” Sandoval said.

Davis and Chohan are two of 48 total athletes competing for Cal in the finals. Other noteable Bears are senior Joyce Thomas, who is competing in the mile run, and junior Destiny Parker, who is competing in the weight throw.

Whether it be the blink of an eye or a matter of inches, once the championship events commence, the smallest gap can be the difference between taking home first, getting a spot on the podium or going home empty-handed. We’ll see which way the blinks go for Cal at the MPSF Championships this weekend.

Christie Aguilar covers track and field. Contact her at [email protected].