The start of a new semester marks the beginning of yet another track season. It’s likely that while most of us were stuffing our faces with holiday desserts and binge-watching shows on Netflix during the holiday break, members of the Cal track team were training relentlessly for the 2018 season.
The Bears’ first meet is the UW Invitational in Seattle; Cal is sending 46 athletes to compete, of which three are school record holders in their respective events. While there are high expectations for the team as a whole, the record holders are the primary focus entering the season.
Senior and All-American Bethan Knights set her school record in the mile at the the 2016 Husky Invitational with a time of 4:39.70. Last season, Knights placed 23rd individually and helped the team come in 22nd place at the NCAA championship, after making it to the event for the first time in six years. This weekend, she will be racing in the 5000m, hoping to start off her season strong.
The two other school record holders are redshirt senior Eugene Hamilton III and senior Peter Simon. Hamilton’s 800m race at the 2016 MPSF Championship claimed Cal’s record with a blazing time of 1:48.55. At last year’s UW Invitational, he took sixth after coming in at 1:51.07.
Amongst the “track” part, Simon proves himself to be a star on the “field.” Last season, he won the Pac-12 Championship in the shot put with the eighth-best throw in the country at 19.74 meters. He also finished in seventh place at the 2017 NCAA with a throw of 19.49 meters. With his top-10 finishes, there is no doubt that Simon has his eyes set on a podium finish at this year’s NCAA Championship.
Outside of Cal’s record holders, a number of Bears continue to stand out as well, including senior distance running Garrett Corcoran. Last year, Corcoran placed 14th in the NCAA Championship in the 3000m. In the 5000m, Corcoran finished 36th in the NCAA West Preliminary Round with a time of 14:57.09.
Another senior who will be looking to make another big impact is senior hurdler Ashtyn Davis, the 2017 Pac-12 Championship winner in the 110m with a time of 13.50. Davis went undefeated in the race throughout the entire regular track season and ended his season with a 13th place finish at the NCAA West Preliminary Round.
This season, Cal will have back an athlete whose presence was missing last season because of injury. Redshirt junior Isabella Marten, who ranked fourth on Cal’s all-time triple jump list as a sophomore in 2016, will be back for the Bears this season. Two seasons ago, she won the Pac-12 Championship and came in seventh place at the NCAA Championship in the triple jump.
Track is arguably one of the most difficult sports, rigorous in both the mental and physical aspect. Though improvement is always possible, the first meet is in important in setting a precedent for the rest of the season.