Cal track and field flies through University of Washington Invitational

Track and Field athlete performs in her competition.
Ethan Epstein/File

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Have you ever believed you could fly? That you could touch the sky?

If you’ve ever wondered what it would be like to soar like a bird on the wind, a good place to start asking would be Cal’s track and field team. While bears are not normally attributed with such abilities, Cal’s athletes both metaphorically and physically flew past finish lines and records to the tune of seven individual wins at last weekend’s University of Washington Invitational at Dempsey Indoor.

The most notable victory came from junior McKay Johnson, who set a new school record of 19.73 meters in men’s shot put and may be in contention for a national championship. Sophomore Joshua Johnson further ensured Cal’s supremacy in the event by tossing in a fourth-place finish.

The throws team would remain dominant on the women’s side, as sophomore Camryn Rogers won the weight throw, beating the second-place competitor by nearly two meters.

Cal’s jumps team flew to ascendancy, literally. Reigning Pac-12 outdoor pole vault champion Lauren Martinez finished in second, tying Stanford’s Kaitlyn Merritt but still beating two other Cardinal athletes. Sophomore Noelle Schiller won the long jump with a leap of 5.9 meters, and freshman Sydney Reid announced her college career in style with a fourth-place finish.

In the men’s competition, freshman Jalyn Jackson also started his college career in the long jump and notched a debut victory before scoring third in the triple jump, two spots behind junior Tuomas Kaukolahti, who replicated last year’s win.

On the track, junior Paramveer Chohan was peerless, finishing first in both the men’s 200- and 400-meter dashes, ending the meet as the only athlete to win multiple individual events.

Cal had three finalists in the men’s 60-meter hurdles: Jasher Foster, Misana Viltz and Tyler Brendel. Foster and Viltz ran, leapt and landed in second and third, respectively.

Despite not winning any events, the women’s sprints athletes started off their season well. Five women won their qualifying heats to make the second round of the 60-meter dash, and Jackie Patterson and Deshae Wise finished third and fourth in that competition’s finals.

Wise would also finish second in the 60-meter hurdles, while junior Zion Corrales Nelson finished second in that 200 meter competition. After a disappointing finish in the Pac-12 Championships, Cal sprints flew back into form and will look to remain competitive this season.

Distance soared at a lower altitude, with only nine athletes competing in mid-distance and distance races. Good performances were still abundant, though, as freshman Moises Medrano and sophomore Benjamin Micallef both won their heats in the men’s 800-meter before joining freshman Adam Saleh and sophomore Nikolaus Moore to finish third with a time of 3:21 in the 4×400 meter relay.

Cal track and field won more events than any other school at the UW Invitational, outcompeting other Pac-12 schools, including Stanford, which only won five competitions. Multiple Pac-12 rivals were also present at the meet, including athletes from the University of Washington, Washington State and Oregon State.

The latest from the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association Poll shows the Cal men’s team ranked 45th nationally and eighth in the West Region, while the women’s team is 16th in the West out of 32 schools. The road ahead is long, as Pac-12 opponents USC and Oregon, as well as local rival Stanford, are all highly ranked programs, but Cal track and field may well challenge the top competition as the season progresses.

After flying through the weekend, the Bears will aim to stay competitive when they return to Dempsey Indoor for the Husky Classic on Feb. 8 and 9. Good luck, and go Bears.

Jasper Sundeen covers track and field, the Daily Californian’s sports blog. Contact him at [email protected].