Bear-y busy weekend: Cal track and field works toward postseason qualification

Athlete jumps in the air.
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The finish line is in sight. In one of life’s strange coincidences, a multitude of things seem to be coming to an end. The Avengers will do their endgame. The final season of “Game of Thrones” will probably kill a lot of important characters.

A world filled with conclusions is one that is rife with unfinished business. Grades must be gotten. Classes must be completed.

Cal’s track and field team is no exception, and the Bears will barrel into their last meets seeking a postseason opportunity.

“It’s the end of the regular season for us,” stated track and field director Tony Sandoval. “We’ll try and get as many people qualified and in a position to move on.”

That quest starts this week, as Cal athletes will journey to four different meets across the state, each seeking to place themselves in the top 48 in the NCAA’s west qualifying region in order to move on to regionals at the conclusion of the season.

Decathletes Hakim McMorris and Tyler Brendel started their events at the Bryan Clay Invitational and Multi in Azusa, California. The meet is one of the largest multi events in the nation, with multiple tiered competitions running simultaneously.

“(Meet officials) run five or six decathlons at the same time,” Sandoval explained. “It’s amazing how they’re able to do that.”

Hopes were high for Wednesday, the first day of the competition. In his second collegiate decathlon, McMorris took the lead in his group with notable finishes in the 100 meter, 400 meter and long jump. Brendel is currently in third in his first decathlon of the season, with his best mark in the 400-meter dash.

The last five events of the decathlon may be more of a challenge, Sandoval said: “The second day is always a little up and down. We always have to take a breath. There’s usually one event that you think you’re going to do well, and something goes wrong.”

Cal’s throwers will venture farther south to the 25th annual Beach Invitational at Long Beach State in a meeting of event specialists.

“All the top throwers in the country are there,” Sandoval elaborated. “It’s a thrower’s Disneyland.”

Silviu Bocancea and Camryn Rogers are the highest-ranked Bears heading into the meet. Both rank third in the west in the men’s and women’s hammer throw. After her record-setting performance at the last Big Meet, Rogers is fourth in the nation.

Those who have already cracked the top 48 will throw to cement their positions, while those on the outside will toss their way toward qualifying marks.

Some of Cal’s best will attend the celebrated Mt. SAC Relays, where they will face top international competition.

“Some of them, I don’t even know who the heck they are,” Sandoval said of the competition. “But they’ll have good marks.”

Several Bears will participate in the prestigious invitational events. Hurdlers Jasher Foster and Paramveer Chohan will defend their highly ranked times in the 110- and 400-meter hurdles, respectively. Mina Anglero will run in the 1500-meter run, and the men’s relay team will put its best feet forward in the invitational 4×400.

The last meet of the weekend is the Cardinal Classic, where many of the less experienced members of the Cal track and field team will attend and hope to jump, hurdle and toss themselves into contention.

Sandoval was quick to point out the difficulty of planning four different meets.

“Planning all the eligibility forms … and getting it right?” he joked. “Some of them better not be sick — that’s all I’m going to say!”

But the Bears must post high-level marks now in order to be competitive in the postseason. Sandoval emphasized the unpredictability of the upcoming Pac-12 Championships. If they qualify now, athletes can rest and improve for the NCAA West Prelims. Failure to do so will lead to exhaustion and subpar performances when those same prelims come knocking.

Cal is entering the final stretch of its season. Students are wrapping up their semesters. The Avengers are ending the game. As we approach the finish line, a question will be asked of all who reach toward it: What will your ending be?

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