Mixed emotions: Johnson qualifies while McMorris misses

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In a sport with many different events like track and field, there are so many different outcomes that can arise from just one invitational. Even if one event group has a successful weekend, it doesn’t mean that every other event group feels the same.

Friday and Saturday at the Mount Pacific Sports Federation Championships brought mixed emotions for Cal track and field.

One one hand, the team had junior Joshua Johnson qualify for the NCAA Indoor National Championships in the shot put, a goal he’s been working towards all season. On the other hand, sophomore Hakim McMorris barely missed qualifying in the decathlon.

The trend for the 2020 indoor season thus far has been domination in the shot put event. Maybe it’s the last name Johnson that brings good luck, as juniors McKay Johnson and Joshua Johnson took first and second place at the MPSF Championships, respectively.

Joshua Johnson moved into a qualifying position for the NCAA indoor championships at No. 13 in the country. He jumped three spots with his college-best throw of 19.60 meters.

McKay Johnson remains in a qualifying position, but has moved down from No. 2 to No. 3 following an over 21-meter throw by senior Andrew Liskowitz from Michigan, who climbed to No.1 in the country Friday.

McKay Johnson’s season best is still from the New Mexico Team Open at the beginning of February, indicating he might be due for a new season best when he competes at the indoor championships on March 13.

Sophomore Hakim McMorris finished second in the heptathlon with 5,626 points and secured personal records in the 60-meter sprint, 60-meter hurdles, 1,000 meters and pole vault. He narrowly missed qualifying for the NCAA indoor nationals, but is working toward qualifying for the NCAA outdoor nationals in June.

The pressure and hype surrounding the MPSF Championships propelled McMorris to his second-place finish and personal records.

“The first heptathlon I did this year was at the UW Invitational. It was just a shake-off meet, something that you do every year. Get it done, get it over with. This past weekend at the MPSF meet I was trying to qualify for nationals, so that motivated me to step up my game,” McMorris said.

McMorris is only a sophomore, but already has a year of impressive performances and several first place finishes under his belt.

“I feel like I can perform better this year, my second year. I’m getting used to the training now and I’m feeling pretty good,” McMorris said.

His stronger events are the hurdles and sprinting events. One of the heptathlon events he usually scores the lowest in is the pole vault, so he’s training hard to improve his vaulting skills and is expecting more progress this season.

“The pole vault is something I’ve been working on for the last year and a half. I’m trying to improve in it overall, we’re doing pretty much the same things but everything is starting to click now. I’m starting to get it now,” McMorris said.

His new career-best of 4.30 meters in the pole vault shows that his focus is paying off.

The Cal men’s distance team carried their pack-running ability from cross country season in the fall into track and field season. The Bears had four distance runners compete in the 3000 meters, all finishing within 10 seconds of each other.

A distance medley relay made up of senior Jordyn Colter, junior Deshae Wise, freshman Lara Tortell and junior Annie Boos had a strong fifth place finish, carrying momentum from the UW invite into the MPSF Championships.

The Bear’s conclude the MPSF Championships with both success and disappointment. Over the next few weeks, some athletes will prepare for indoor nationals, while others will train for their next chance at qualifying for a big meet.

Regardless of how the Bears felt ending the MPSF Championships, there’s still plenty of time left in the season for growth.

Mia Horne covers cross country. Contact her at [email protected].