Cal track and field prepares for championship season at Last Chance Meet

Two track players run as they pass the baton from one to the other.
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Track and field is, in an inescapable way, a process. It is a completely linear sport. One gets from point A to point B, whether one is throwing a weight, barrelling down a track or flying into a sandy jump pit.

This linear process represents not only an individual event or race but entire seasons and careers. There is always a finish line just ahead, a horizon that must be crossed. In many ways, track and field is an unending sport, for as soon as one reaches the goal, one looks up to find a new objective ahead.

Cal track and field’s performance at the Last Chance College Elite Meet reflects this never-ending process and the desire to improve. The Bears used the return to Dempsey Indoor last Friday as a stepping stone, launching themselves toward regional and national championships.

“What they’re going to do is try and improve their seed mark to get into a good heat at MPSF, and there they can possibly get a qualifying mark to NCAAs,” said head coach Tony Sandoval.

Underclassmen Sydney Reid and Windy Margerum placed second and fifth, respectively, at the long jump. Reid set a personal best and Margerum matched her indoor best as both athletes contributed to the Cal’s strong jumps team.

Noelle Schiller emerged as the individual symbol of dominance, winning the long jump for the second time in her second meet this season.

Kendall Mader and Malik McMorris both placed third in the women’s shot put and men’s weight throw, respectively. None of Cal’s top-ranking throwers competed, but solid performances from Mader and McMorris speak to the depth of this team. The Bears are in the MPSF’s top 30 for every men’s and women’s throwing competition.

The sprints team put up a decent performance as well, with top-three finishes in both men’s and women’s competitions. Nicolas Bland recorded an MPSF top-30 time in the 400-meter dash, as did Jackie Patterson in the 200-meter, but both athletes still have a long way to go to make themselves heard at the MPSF Indoor Championships.

Redshirt senior Garrett Corcoran has struggled so far this season, finishing well behind his personal bests. While Corcoran is still five seconds off his career record, his second-place finish catapulted him up regional and national rankings. A lot can happen between now and the NCAA championships, but Corcoran has placed himself well within the conversation.

Annie Boos was another standout in a competitive mile race at Friday’s meet. Despite a 14th-place finish, the sophomore scored her personal record en route to a top-25 MPSF ranking.

Both Boos and Corcoran made significant improvements, but Cal’s distance team continued to flounder. After a difficult 2018 season and a slow start to the 2019 campaign, seven of the nine Bears running the mile finished outside the top 10 this Friday. In a season in which Cal’s other event groups have made massive improvements, distance runners will need to step up their game if the team as a whole is to compete for trophies at the end of the season.

Despite some disappointment, Sandoval’s goals of improvement were largely met — the Bears cemented their strengths and shored up some of their weaknesses as all eyes turn to the MPSF Indoor Championships this weekend.

Jasper Sundeen covers track and field. Contact him at [email protected].