Pole vault sweeps as Cal track and field shines at Cardinal Classic

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While most of Berkeley was drowning in a sea of blue, gold and a whole lot of green this weekend, Cal track and field was lighting it up on the track (and field) in Palo Alto for the Cardinal Classic.

The Bears posted multiple wins and top performances at Stanford — a great sign for this late in the regular season. The Pac-12 championship event is only two weeks away, and the Bears are peaking at just the right time to make a deep postseason run.

“Most people are trying to do what we’re trying to do right now and that is get a regional qualifying mark or get a mark good enough that when you’re seeded at the conference championship, you’re not in the crappy lane,” said Cal head coach Tony Sandoval. “But it was good; we had some good marks.”

One of Cal’s strongest performers was junior pole vaulter Lauren Martinez. With a victory at the classic, the talented vaulter has placed in first or second in every single outdoor and indoor meet this season, save for one 10th-place finish at the NCAA Indoor Championships. Martinez has been one of the Bears’ most potent threats, and she’s shown week in and week out that she is not to be trifled with.

“The pole vault was very, very competitive on the women’s side,” Sandoval said. “Stanford’s got a trio of good vaulters that really pushed Lauren Martinez in the pole vault. She had a career outdoor best. … That’s a good sign — every other weekend or every weekend, she’s getting pushed, and I think it’s going to prepare her for when we get to regionals or nationals.”’

On the men’s side, junior Andrew Lind completed the pole vault sweep, putting up a mark of 4.86 meters. Lind’s performance is just 0.04 meters away from his personal best of 4.90 meters, which was recorded at the Big Meet earlier this month.

Joining the talented vaulters, Cal’s throwers displayed their dominance once again. Sophomore stud McKay Johnson notched a pair of victories in shot put and discus, while junior Silviu Bocancea took first in the hammer. Freshman Joshua Johnson excelled as well, recording a huge personal best in the shot put with a throw of 18.06 meters.

“He was a football player who, his senior year, decided to concentrate on the throws,” Sandoval said of Johnson. “He really developed his senior year and this year. What is significant is that the high school shot put is 12 pounds, and he’s made the transition to the heavier 16-pounder a lot better than most.”

Freshman Camryn Rogers and senior Destiny Parker also turned in strong performances in the hammer placing first and third, respectively.

From day one, Cal’s field student-athletes have set the tone for Cal’s success this season, and with their performances this weekend, the Bears looked primed and ready for the Pac-12 championships. Cal has one more major regular season meet until regionals, and those without qualifying marks will be hungry to show what they can do.

Harshil Desai covers track & field. Contact him at [email protected].