After California’s exceedingly wet winter, the sun has cheekily elected to return from its exile beyond the marine layer for two very simple reasons:
- To lull us into a false sense of complacency. This beautiful weather is vigorously incongruous with the impending doom that is spelled out by finals week.
- Cal track and field’s season is heating up.
After a weekend of competitions across California yielded mixed results, the Bears will return home for the Brutus Hamilton Challenge, their last home and regular-season meet before the Pac-12 championships.
Goals vary from athlete to athlete. Around the nation, athletes will be trying to forge the trail ahead and qualify for the highest level of competition they can, whether that means working toward a spot at conference championships or qualification for the preliminary rounds of the NCAAs.
“We want marks to help with the seeding. There are some people who are on the bubble,” said track and field director Tony Sandoval of some of his charges. “We’re not sure if they’re good enough to go, and we want to make sure they’re on an ascending trend.”
The men’s 800-meter and women’s 100-meter races are two events that should draw attention — both feature promising athletes attempting to qualify for the NCAA prelims and improve their seeds for the Pac-12 championships.
Diab Davis is another Bear on the bubble, as his 100-meter dash is just 0.07 seconds from qualification, although in a contest that comes down to the smallest of margins, that may amount to a large gap.
Highly ranked Cal athletes will compete to keep their places at the top. The Bears hold a combined five qualification spots in the men’s and women’s hurdles. Jordyn Colter, Rebecca Croft and Mina Anglero are all in the west region’s top 48 in the 800 meters.
Cal’s women’s 4×100 relay team will return to its home track hoping to continue what has been a prolific season. The men may look to take cues from their female counterparts, as both of the men’s relay teams find themselves outside qualification.
The Brutus Hamilton Challenge may feature distinct difficulties. As a smaller regional meet, athletes from lower-ranked schools will come to Edwards Stadium to participate — the Pac-12 features five schools in the men’s top 25 and a whopping seven in the women’s top 25, so Cal athletes must compete at the level of conference teams rather than those they will see this weekend.
While the last meet of any regular season always carries some sentiment, this one may be particularly emotional.
When the sun sets Saturday night, Sandoval will see his final home meet directing the team pass into the history books. After nearly four decades at Cal, Sandoval will bid Edwards Stadium a fond farewell.
“It’s a time for reflection, it’s a time to move on. 37 (years) is a long time,” Sandoval said with a smile before mentioning the athletes he works with every day. “I feel very fortunate — they learn from me … and I learn from them.”
Sandoval will likely stay involved in track and field.
“I’m not going home to play golf — that’s for sure,” he joked.
The sun will surely shine Friday and Saturday as Cal comes home for its last meet of the regular season. Sandoval will oversee his last Brutus Hamilton Challenge as the Bears will try to create momentum before their postseason.