Cal track and field gears up for Brutus Hamilton Challenge

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In March, Cal alumnus Kevin Chou and his wife Connie Chen donated $25 million to the Haas School of Business, which will be spent on a new building, to be fittingly named Connie & Kevin Chou Hall. Actions such as that of the Chous are common occurrences, perhaps fueled by a desire to be remembered — to have one’s name quite literally set in stone. In sports, however, tribute does not come as swiftly as gifting millions of dollars; rather, it only comes from a long career defined by esteemed skill and character.

Former track and field hall of famer, Olympian, Cal coach and poet, Brutus Hamilton has proven to be worthy of recognition, and his name lives on in the form of Cal track and field’s Brutus Hamilton Challenge. While this weekend’s annual honorific meet will not make or break the legacies of the Bears, it will serve as a pivotal opportunity to prepare for the Pac-12 and NCAA championships.

Junior Ashtyn Davis is leading the pack when it comes to producing a season worth remembering. He has racked up eight first-place finishes in 2017, coming in both the 60-meter hurdle and 110-meter hurdle events. He is undefeated in the outdoor season thus far, and a win this weekend would mark six consecutive victories. Spending much of the season in the top 10 of national rankings, Davis currently stands as the ninth-fastest hurdler in the nation. Davis recorded his best time in the 110 hurdles on April 8, finishing at 13.65 seconds. But with every meet that he fails to improve upon his time, he leaves himself in jeopardy of being knocked out of the top 10, his pursuers trailing him by only hundredths of a second.

Junior shot put thrower Peter Simon is another standout Bear, ranked No. 11 in the country in with four meet wins in the outdoor season. But Simon has yet to make it to the top tier of the podium in a championship meet. He placed third in the 2016 Pac-12 outdoor championships and went on to place 19th at the NCAA championships. To put himself in serious contention for these 2017 contests, Simon must use this outing to help boost his top mark of 19.41 meters.

Junior Destiny Parker, junior Ashley Anderson and sophomore Lauren Martinez have all had impressive seasons but are just shy of the top 20 in their respective events. The group (Parker in the hammer throw, Anderson in the triple jump and Martinez in the pole vault) could hugely benefit from adding distance to their record-bests. Any improvement, be it by inches or meters, will help in the chase toward a national podium finish.

If there ever comes a day that there is an Ashtyn Davis Open or a Peter Simon Invitational, the event would come only after many more years of excellence from those athletes. But for now, the Bears’ main focus is to put up competitive marks at this weekend’s meet and prepare for the tough road ahead of them.

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